Monday, 14 April 2003

Computer games: Freecell et al.

Listening to:

Brahms, piano sonata no. 3 in F minor, op. 5.

Still reading:

Dickens, Our mutual friend. Just finished book 1 of 4 on Sunday.

Games, games, games. I haven’t said much about the computer games that I’ve been playing recently in the log, so here’s more than you ever wanted to know. First up, Freecell, that ubiquitous computer game, installed on all Windows operating systems since Windows 95, and available elsewhere too. The documentation that comes with the Windows version says that it is believed that every game has a solution. This is a great marketing ploy, and it is the case that a very high percentage of games can be solved (high being on the order of over 99%). Nonetheless, this interesting solitaire site claims that even the authors of the implementation knew their strong claim was likely false when they made it. I was also interested to read that there was an Internet project to play through all of the 32000 possible games in the original implementation (based on a 16-bit seed for a random number generator). Now that really is something useful to come out of the Internet.

Freecell is the sort of game that will be with us forever. But I’ve also played games that are of more transient interest. (Strange but true, most computer games get stale. Why is this?) I recently completed No One Lives Forever II. This was a very entertaining game, and one that convinced me that a First-Person Shooter could be a reasonable game to play. (Positive reviews from, for example, GameSpot and AVault are accurate.)

Just this weekend, I bought a copy of Age of Mythology. I haven’t been able to give this a whole lot of time yet, but so far, I am distinctly underwhelmed. It has positive reviews just about everywhere, but I am finding it very samey in comparison to its predecessor, Age of Empires, and think that the new divine/mythological aspect to things is just indictive of glitzy featurism. I’ll give the main campaign a bit longer to see what playing with the Norse and Egyptians is like, because the reviews do indicate that the Greeks are most conventional.

Over the weekend, I played some Go, which was great, as it has been a long time since I’ve found time for regular face-to-face Go, and I’ve also got myself into an Play-By-e-Mail game of Diplomacy. You can see the current situation on the floc site. (I’m Italy.)