Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

Kaiserreich: Canada in the Second Weltkrieg Index

December 4, 2010

Kaiserreich Update #1
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Kaiserreich Update #8

Hearts of Iron II is a very detailed WWII strategy game. Overshadowed lately by the up-and-coming Hearts of Iron III, HoI2 remains the most popular game in the series for the dedicated Let’s Player/AARer. The most popular modification of HoI2 is Kaiserreich, a mod which asks the question “What if the Central Powers won the First World War?”. I’m going to do an After Action Report on it.

The country in focus will be Canada, the leader of the Entente. The Entente is usually the underdog of these games, but I intend change that.

We are situated in North America. Trouble is a-brewin’ in the United States, which somehow managed to get it worse in this alternative history than in our timeline. In the industrial throngs of Chicago and Detroit Combined Syndicates of America is wishing to make a move. The America First Union Party gathers strength from the depressed agricultural regions of the South and Mid-West, while in the very west of America the pacific states are biding their time.

Mexico is Syndicalist, though not yet part of the Internationale, while we have an admittedly weak ally in the Caribbean Federation.

In the Great South American War, which started as a war between Bolivia and Paraguay and which eventually extended into a war between Argentina and Brazil. Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, the victors of the war, eventually transformed into La Plata, and the weakened Brazil looks like it could fall to syndicalism any day.

With the United States neutral in the war, Germany was able to, after peace at the eastern front, be able to concentrate at the western, eventually winning. France was in chaos, leading to the creation of the Commune of France, and Britain followed shortly after in a general strike which culminated in the Union of Britain. Italy is split in half, one syndicalist in the south, and the Italian Federation in the north, which holds quite some sway over the catholic countries. The Commune of France is the leader of the Internationale, and quite interested in spreading syndicalism over the planet.

Germany decided to help the Mensheviks, leading to Russia being led by Aleksander Kerensky. This Russia is much weakened in this timeline, not only due to the lack of Stalin’s steel bath, but also because the former Russian Empire has been split up in many independent entities.

Though the Austro-Hungarian Empire won the war, the following inter-war years showed how utterly dependent on Germany it was. The dual monarchy is in the game represented as Austria having Hungary as a puppet. The Balkans are a melting pot of countries, ready to overheat any time.

Germany is currently the most powerful country on the planet. It has plenty of allies in Europe like Flander-Wallonia (former Belgium), White Ruthenia (Belarus), Ukraine and United Baltic Duchy. This band of countries are part of a bloc called Mitteleuropa, lead by Germany, naturally.

The exile French set up camp the North African colonies, to become National France. Their aim is to subjugate Commune of France. They have to watch out so the opposite does not happen, though, and look out for uprisings of ethnical groups within their territory. Currently our strongest ally, which says something about the position we’re in.

That huge green blob is Mittelafrika, German vassal, led by WWI ace Hermann Göring. The fatty has started to develop plans of enlarging Mittelafrikan territory, much to Germany’s chagrin. The Portuguese territories are in a difficult position.

Egypt became independent at the end of the Weltkrieg, and managed to expand in Sudan, becoming one of two truly independent African nations, along with Ethiopia. Libya is currently a puppet of the Ottoman Empire, which managed to modernize after the Weltkrieg, and South Africa is unfortunately not in the Entente.

Liberia is an annoying little American puppet. Annoying, because if National France wishes to make Liberia their own, and Liberia tells National France to f*ck off, we’ll be at war with the United States.


India is split into three parts: 1. Delhi, which is in the Entente, 2. Bengal, syndicalist and 3. The Princely Federation, which is pretty pro-German. I haven’t found uniting India to be that great a priority, though I could always try.

The largest factions in the Chinese part of the world is Allgemeinschafte Ostasien, a German puppet and pretty much one big corporation. The Chinese Empire (represented in the game as the Qing Empire), has a precarious position, and has only two more IC (Industrial Capacity) than Allgostasien.

Japan is one of the countries which has benefitted the most in this alternate timeline. They’re just as hungry for expansion as in our timeline, and wishes to expand in the Pacific. They have two puppets, Manchuria and Transamur (that white country which has Vladivostok).

Lastly, we have the Australasian Confederation, which are our pals. They seem to be suspectible to a Pro-German coup in some games though, so we shall keep an eye on them.

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Dwarf Metropolis

October 19, 2010


Housing built under a motorway in Argenteuil, north western suburb of Paris. (Source)

I was thinking about cities today. Cities first arose in Mesopotamia. With the rise of agriculture individuals for the first time amass a certain wealth. But it was also ripe for plundering by the more nomadic groups, so walls were built to protect this. And so cities were made. It is interesting, that connection between capital, cities and protection. In Swedish, there’s a word called borg, which means fortress (and not a cybernetic organism :p). This sounds familiar to borgare, bourgeois, though it also sounds similar to Bürger, the German word for an inhabitant of a town. Thinking of capitalism, a mental inner image of a sprawling metropolis appears. The city where the government of a country is located is also called a capital.

Speaking of fortresses, the name of this post is inspired by the game Dwarf Fortress. I’ve only played Dwarf Fortress once, didn’t really find it entertaining. But that didn’t stop me from getting all nerdy about it, reading the wiki and Let’s Plays of it. When a goblin raid comes along, if the dwarves cannot defeat it they’ll have to hide behind the fortress walls and have to sustain themselves on what is inside. I believe that to cope with goblins (environmental issues) we’ll have to rely on fortresses (cities). By that I don’t mean stuff like growing food inside cities, but that with peak oil behind the corner we need to live more densely together.

A most interesting feature of it is the z-dimension, that the fortresses are built underground. For greater density, cities of course need to build into the sky and down into the ground. In the sky we have the tall buildings, floors built upon another (I am quite interested in whether tall buildings made of wood can challenge concrete and steel, or complement them in some way), and in the underground, where the dwarves live, there is also a sprawling world. The subways are attractive to humans, but the sewers less so. I also find the connection with the living of the humans and the living of the dwarves interesting not only due to the subways, but due to the fact that the tall buildings cast large shadows, making days less bright. Inverted during the night, the electrical lamps makes the city bath in light.

Cities are often logistical nightmares for city planners. Especially those in Europe or Japan, owing to their age – building for immediate needs causes troubles later on when the cities grow. Sweden, due to never having had a war fought on Swedish soil, has a lot of medieval cities still standing strong. On the other hand, Sweden initiated an urbanization process after WWII where the agricultural populace was drawn to the cities in a quite orderly fashion. This was possible primarily due to three factors: 1) The country came quite unscathed out of the war, 2) a strong centralized state and 3) close connections with the US.

The above process, along with vast spaces and a certain “frontier romance”, similar to the US and Australia, means that Swedes like cars a bit more than they’d admit. Cars and cities are a terrible combination. They seem to embody the faults with liberalism. Commuting is fairly slow. Cars are a bit faster. So when cities grew, some chose to use cars instead of more collective means of transportation in cities. Travelling by car got a little bit slower, but so did commuting. People living in Stockholm actually seem to be driving more than people living in Norrbotten (the province of the northern north, here be dragons). And so we have cities filled with bubbles of steel, machines dangerous to all who cross roads. Even when they’re not moving they obstruct the city. Think of all parking spots which could have something much more useful on them. A great step towards better cities is thus prioritizing more commuting, or less obtructive means of transportation like bicycles and taxis (taxis don’t need parking spots).

One big problem with cities is of course the anonymosity. In a large city, you can more easily be left out. Though maybe that has more to do with the social mores of the present, which I talked a bit about in my previous post. It is imperative of course to expand the commons (those things which are outside both the private and public sphere), for greater social interconnectedness. I see no reason why the city can’t be as good in the respect as the country-side, if not better! There are so many more cool things in cities. I would be most interested in more communes, and I think it is good especially for senior citizens. Old people dying, without anybody to notice it until weeks or months afterwards, represents a low point in humanity.

To summarize: I think cities should be prioritizing the z-dimension, for example buildings which don’t need windows, like cinemas and shops, should preferably be underground. Tall buildings become crazy inconvenient after reaching a certain number of floors, of course. There should be a greater collectivism in both transportation and social life. Though living like dwarves may not be natural for us, it is imperative for environmental sustainability. Hopefully there will be good ways of making cities greener, in the sense of more flora, that is.

I should add that I live on the countryside, like not the “countryside” which city folks call certain suburbs, but actual countryside with forests all around and a kilometer or so to the nearest bus stop. Cities, though truly impressive, also seem intimidating to me in their vastness. But I believe in human cities.

Pokémon Index

March 2, 2010

The playthough of Pokémon Emerald:
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Pokémon is the best video game franchise ever. Period. The sooner this basic truth is universally accepted, the better. (It’s also the most complicated Gameboy Advance game, though that doesn’t really say much. :P)

Bulbapedia is one of the best sources of information as Pokémon goes – you could at least take a peek.

Perhaps some of you, and I hope not, is asking “what the [expletive removed] is Pokémon?” Using an allegory, you enslave these little demons, you make them stronger by slaughtering weaker demons, and then you gamble with other enslavers regarding which demon can maul the other first. Cockfighting at it’s finest.

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Each player takes turns to make an action:
Fight: The Pokémon does a “move”, of which it can have a four of. Can have direct damage (loss of hit points) or indirect damage (reduced stats, incur a status effect etc.)
Pokémon: You can have up to six Pokémon in your party. Switching to a different Pokémon has great tactical application, but consumes a turn.
Bag: Use an item as aid in the battle effort, such as a Portion for healing or a Ball for catching. Not available in competitive battling.
Run: Flee, you coward. Can only be used against wild Pokémon.

Defeating Pokémon yields experience (EXP). After getting a certain amount, which is dependant on the species and the level it’s currently at, it gains a new level. A new level means increased stats, and Pokémon learn new moves and evolve at certain levels.

Evolution: Some Pokémon evolve. The most common way to do so is levelling up. A Squirtle evolves to Wartortle at level 16, and to Blastoise at level 36, for example. Evolutionary stones, such as Fire Stone and Water stone, can be used to evolve certain Pokémon. After reaching a certain level of happiness, Pokémon evolve next time they level up. Pokémon also evolve if they are traded to another player, sometimes they have to hold a certain item as they are traded for successful evolution. There are a few other ways a Pokémon can evolve.

Every Pokémon also has stats, which plays a large part in it’s performance. These are Hit Points, Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense and Speed. Hit Points is how much damage the Pokémon can take. (Special) Attack and (Special) Defense stats has a big impact on how much damage the Pokémon can take and how much it can dish out. The Pokémon with the highest Speed gets to attack first. (Unless Quick Attack or similar moves are used. If both Pokémon have equal Speed, each have a 50% chance to attack first.)

What’s the difference between Attack/Special Attack? Each move has a type, which can be physical or special.
Physical types are Normal, Fighting, Ground, Flying, Bug, Rock, Ghost, Poison, and Steel.
Special types are Fire, Water, Electric, Grass, Ice, Psychic, Dragon, and Dark.
Note that Ghost is physical and Dark is special, which is slighly counter-intuitive.

Keep in mind that while the most common way for a Pokémon to learn new moves is by leveling up, it can also learn by Technical Machines (TMs), Hidden Machines (HMs) (the difference being that HMs must be used to progress in the game, and can be used an infinite amount of times), as well as Egg Moves (which is learned through breeding).

Regarding types, each Pokémon has either one or two types. Using a move of a certain type can either be super effective, not very effective or not do any damage at all. Here’s a chart from Wikipedia:

Type Chart

All damaging moves have a certain power. Tackle, for example, has 35 power, and Earthquake has 100 power. If a Pokémon and the move it’s using is of the same type, it gets a Same Type Attack Bonus (STAB), which raises the power of a move by 50%, which is very significant.

A Pokémon can also be inflicted with Status Effects. There are five “proper” status effects, and a couple of others such as Flinch, Perish Song etc. They reveal how truly sadistic the game is.
Burn – The Pokémon loses 1/8th of it’s Max HP, and it’s Attack stats are cut in half. (Pokémon with the Guts ability do not compromise their Attack). Fire types and Pokémon with the Water Veil ability are immune to Burn.
Freeze – The Pokémon can’t fight. Every turn, it has 10% of thawing. Ice types and Pokémon with the Magma Armor ability are immune to Freeze.
Paralysis – One of the most common status effects. Speed is reduced to 25% of Max, and the Pokémon has 25% chance of not being able to attack. Pokémon with the Limber ability are immune to Paralysis.
Poison – The Pokémon loses 1/8th of it’s HP each turn in battle. Pokémon can also be Badly Poisoned, in that case the damage taken every turn is expansive. Outside of battle, it loses HP every four steps. Poison and Steel types are immune, as are Pokémon with the aptly named Immunity ability.
Sleep – The Pokémon can’t fight. Will wake up in 1 to 5 turns. The sleeping Pokémon can use moves such as Snore and Sleep Talk, and moves like Dream Eater and Nightmare can affect the sleeper. Vital Spirit and Insomnia makes the Pokémon immune.
And then there are volatile status effects (goes off once the Pokémon is taken out of battle): Attraction, Confusion, Curse, Flinch, Leech Seed, Nightmare, Perish Song, Taunt and Torment.

Moves like Leer and Dragon Dance can affect your or your opponent’s stats. Fairly useless in single player (with the exception of Accuracy and Evasion), it is quite important in competitive battling. Items can also affect stats.

Regarding Accuracy and Evasion, they’re an exception since it’s stats which Pokémon don’t innately have (the exception being Pokémon with the Compoundeyes ability), but can nevertheless be tweaked in battle to affect the likelihood of moves successfully hitting. Moves have different accuracy rates as well.

Pokémon can hold items, to use in both battle and on the field, depending on the circumstances. Berries are automatically used by Pokémon to heal HP, Status Effects and so on. Items such as Mystic Water can raise a type’s effectiveness. There are many uses for held items.

Abilities: Every Pokémon has an ability, which is dependant on which sort of Pokémon it is. They can only have one ability, but certain species have two different abilities (they may have one of them). Some are rather useful, some are rather useless, some are outright [expletive removed] awesome and some can even harm the Pokémon.

A word about Power Points (PP): Moves can only be used a specific amount of times. If the Pokémon is out of PP, it can’t use the move. Once the PPs for all moves are depleted, it uses Struggle, which does damage to the user every turn.

Individual Values (IVs): All Pokémon are equal, but some are more equal than others. A Pokémon’s individual value determine how big it’s stats can get. Not too much of your concern unless your anal about it, I suppose. (I try not to get Pokes with crappy IV, myself. :P)

Effort Values (EVs): Trained Pokémon are stronger than Wild ones, even though they’re at the same level. Why? EVs. Every time a Pokémon defeats another Pokémon, they get EVs in a particular stat, depending on the defeated Pokémon. After a certain amount of EVs, the Pokémon gains a new stat point. A Pokémon can only get a specific amount of EVs.

Natures have some impact on a Pokémon’s stats, since a Pokémon can get 10% increase in one stat and 10% dcrease in another. An Alakazam, for example, would benefit the most from having a Modest nature since it increases Special Attack and decreases Attack. Check out the Bulbapedia page for a nifty chart.

A note about happiness: Certain Pokémon evolve when happy. The moves Return’s and Frustration’s power is based on how happy the Pokémon is. It can also make Pokémon breed faster (hehe).

Catching Pokémon: You can catch wild Pokémon, using Poké Balls. Keep in mind that a Pokémon’s HP is very significant in how likely it is for a Pokémon to be caught, as is Status Effects – it is even more important than the quality of Poké Balls, though that is quite important as well. Legendaries are notoriously hard to catch, and requires cunningness and patience.

Breeding: If you leave two Pokémon at a day care center, they may have eggs. Eggs are hatched by walking (seriously); after a certain amount of steps, the little critter hatches. Pokémon you hatch from eggs are generally superior to their wild counterparts, since you can get those desired IVs at a faster pace. Baby Pokémon are only available through breeding.

Pokémon can breed with another Pokémon of a different species, if they are in the same egg group. A Pokémon may be in two egg groups. Check out the Bulbapedia page for more information. Genderless Pokémon and Baby Pokémon can’t breed.

The mother defines what sort of Pokémon will hatch, but that doesn’t mean the father is insignificant. If the father has a TM, or a Egg Move the hatched Pokémon can get in no other way, the hatched Pokémon will get moves. TMs can thus, in a way, be recycled.

I think that’s all I can think of for now. One learns new things about Pokémon every day. Let it not be said that Pokémon is simplistic. 😛