Gold's Vault
Realization: I’ll play competitively if I can do it my way

When it comes to games with strategy involved, I’m the kind of player who likes to experiment. I’ll spend time trying different things or just trying to make the plays I like best work. I like to be good at the games I play, but I always want to do it in a way that feels good to me—I don’t like playing a boring or strictly pre-set strategy just to win.

I’m starting to notice that the more ways to play competitively a game offers, the more likely I am to play it competitively. If a game has just a few strict strategies or play styles that are competitive, I’m more likely to stick to a level of play where I can make a strategy I like work. This usually ends up being the highest difficulty computer the game offers (though sometimes I settle for a more manageable computer).

I know a lot of people who like playing competitively want others to respect that level of play. The easiest way for them to do that is to get them playing competitively themselves. Building a game where many different strategies can be competitive is a good way to encourage people to get to that level because they’ll still be having fun at that level, and it will still feel like they’re the biggest contributor to their own play style.

Throwing more options into the mix doesn’t automatically mean more strategies work competitively. Magic the Gathering is a good example of this with its formats that allow certain sets of cards:

  • Legacy: Every card ever printed is allowed (with some banned cards). There are about 9 competitive archetypes.
  • Modern: There’s a fixed cutoff point where “cards printed before this set are not allowed” and some banned cards. Lots of people come up with fun decks here, although there are some powerful decks that can beat most others if they aren’t prepared to deal with them.
  • Standard: Only the most recent cards are allowed. Experimentation is all you have.

At our local shop, my brother and I are some of the best Standard players. I spend time playing with various cards and experimenting to make the cards I like work as best as I can make them. Once I have a base I like, I get advice from others and spend time fine-tuning it until it has no weaknesses. My brother on the other hand works to build decks that work against everyone else with at least a 55% win ratio (and can prepare between games to do even better). It takes him tens of hours to get something close to that, and games between his deck and mine are anyone’s guess who will win.

I think that building a game where any number of strategies can be competitive is difficult to the point of being an art form. I’m interested in figuring out how it’s done, and I’ll write up more thoughts if I think I figure something out. For now, have a few related Extra Credits videos that might offer some answers.

Perfect Imbalance
Counter Play

Brawl In The Family Coming To A Close

It hasn’t ended its run just yet, but the announcement’s been made. The comic does have some significance to me, so I feel like I should talk about it a bit…

Was it four years ago or closer to five? My brother found and showed me this hilarious little video made from a web comic about Nintendo characters. A few days after seeing it, I was curious enough about what comic it might come from to take a look and go through everything they had to date.

I also noticed they had a forum. I’d never had any experience with an online community before, but I figured I was ready and I gave it a try. I don’t think I could’ve picked a better first group to talk to, even accounting for the problems in it I know about now. I met a lot of great people there—some were friends for just a short part of my life, a few became some of my best friends who still talk to me daily, and I even met a girl who’s very special to me.

I continued to follow the comic steadily while I used the forum (and after I eventually left). It had ups and downs, story arcs I enjoyed and story arcs I didn’t. Some jokes will always tickle me no matter how many times I see them. All in all, it was a nice experience and it was encouraging to see a web comic—on the internet no less—that maintained a clean, lighthearted sense of humor.

It was some time ago (more than a year, I think) when I started to see and tell others that it was going to come to an end sometime. I didn’t know when, but I could see the signs—the charm was fading, and the author appeared to be losing interest. However, it’s one of those things where knowing ahead of time doesn’t make it easier when it happens. I’m not particularly broken up about it, but I can’t help feeling a bit of sentiment seeing the comic that sparked my first online interactions on its way out.

It looks like the forum will still be active once the comic ends, but I have no particular interest in returning to it—the problems that pushed me to leave are still going to be there. Good luck and good fortune to those who still enjoy it though.

One more story arc has been announced, so I’ll be following to the end and hopefully it will be a good one. The comic is going out with more of a bang than many others that simply stop updating or only post a few comics a year, and I agree that that’s the right way to do it.

Godspeed, BitF.

I wager a shiny penny that the comic ends on number 600.

Recovering A Lost Password—The Hard Way

My word, did that feel backwards.

Some time ago I deleted a Yahoo email I’d had since I was a kid. It wasn’t working reliably and was getting a lot of spam, and I was using my Gmail account for a lot more. Over time as I logged into them, I changed any web sites that used my Yahoo email to use my Gmail instead. However, it looks like I missed an important one…

I found something I wanted on Ebay, but before I could place bids or add it to my watch list, I needed to reset my password (which they apparently made everyone do recently). They could reset it by sending a message to my now-deleted Yahoo email, or they could send a text message to a phone number I no longer have. They also had an option to call them about it, but I prefer to do these things online when I can.

So what ended up being the way to handle this with the least hassle? I recreated my Yahoo email account, had them send me an email, changed my password, changed it to use my Gmail address, and deleted my Yahoo email again. And it felt WEIRD.

I guess I’m glad no one took my Yahoo email in between (but really, who would even think to use the same address?). I’m also glad it worked. Like, there’s no reason it shouldn’t have, but it feels so very odd… I feel like I cheated at a card game when all I did was move a chair from one room to another.

It sickens me a bit to find out it’s been 4 months since I worked on the game I’ve been putting together. But I’ve been thinking about it, and I’m working on a new prototype now. Now I just have to decide if I want to finish writing up instructions for it as it is, or add a new feature first which will require reworking a bunch of things…

So far I get feedback from 2 people on a semi-consistant basis, so anyone who speaks up with their preference will in fact be heard.

This is amazing.


This is amazing.

Does anyone recognize this? I found it in a Google search, and it was posted on this mess of a forum post. That signature tells me it’s either fan art by someone or an original creation, and I want to give credit where it’s due.
I’m using this in a game prototype, and I want to give credit where it’s due!

Does anyone recognize this? I found it in a Google search, and it was posted on this mess of a forum post. That signature tells me it’s either fan art by someone or an original creation, and I want to give credit where it’s due.

I’m using this in a game prototype, and I want to give credit where it’s due!

Open Source Flash Editors

So yeah, it took me until today to even think of searching for this, but I know some people who might be interested in knowing there are free alternatives to Adobe’s Flash editor!

This list looks pretty promising for all you Windows folks out there.

Not listed on there is the one I might play around with (which works on all platforms), Synfig.

EDIT: Okay, Synfig is a vector editor, not a Flash editor.

Open source usually means “free for everyone”, so take a look!

I’ve started playing Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door going with only upgrading badge points on level up. I just finished fighting with Hooktail, and I had wondered how difficult the fight would be. I didn’t use the badge to make her weaker, and the fight ended up being TOUGH, but not unbeatable. In fact, far from it…

I noticed along the way just how many ways they give you to beat Hooktail. The badge is easy mode since it makes her weaker and weaker, but you also get 3 Shine Sprites just before the area where the fight takes place, meaning you can run back to Merlon and upgrade a partner if you need it. You can receive and buy items that let you temporarily increase your defense against her massive attack power, and there are a number of badges you can get that improve your stats when you’re at 5 HP or less.

After going through this, I can really appreciate the kind of good design that went behind this first boss. It’s tough, but there’s plenty of ways to go about it, even without the “easy mode” badge!

Yesterday my brother and I stepped into a fast food place owned and run by someone from Mexico. My brother started a friendly conversation with him in Spanish, which is always fun to watch. I understand about half of what my brother says in Spanish, so once in a while he and I end up in a bilingual conversation—very fun!

I do have one friend (who I have yet to meet in person) who speaks fluent Spanish. I’d like to get those two in a room together and see how it goes. It’d probably also be fun to have a bilingual conversation with her too.

Last night I didn’t fall asleep until after 3:00 AM. It was a different sleeping place than normal, so that might affect things, but worth noting is that I did take all my allergy meds that I still think help me fall asleep. Somewhere along the line, SOMEONE suggested that I might just have straight up insomnia, and I’m getting to where I’m willing to consider that possibility. I have a doctor’s appointment in a few weeks, so I’ll bring it up then. I think I managed to put myself to sleep, though, when I remembered a series of thoughts that used to do the trick pretty quickly.

In other news, my iPhone which wasn’t working has been replaced. All the data I cared about was backed up on iCloud, but things like my background and ringtones will need to be set up again manually. I’ll probably spend the next few days breaking it in until I can’t tell the difference between it and the old one.