Sunday, July 15, 2012


I've started writing on some blogs again, starting with a new blog.  This one will be focused on ideas for worlds, types of creatures, and other such ideas that I want to organize in one place. 

Pickly's worldbuilder

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Starcraft 2: Multiplayer

Over the past few weeks, I've actually dove into Starcraft 2 multiplayer. I've been trying to play about 1-2 times a day on average, in 1v1 and 2v2. Am a low-medium level bronze at the moment, but have reached a point quickly where I really don't like loosing. for all these games, I've been playing as zerg.

Overall Experience:

I've been having the most trouble in my games with openings, Most losses come from some sort of result of an early attack, and many of the wins come when players don't expand well. Generally, the later the game goes, the better chance it seems I have to win. the lack of expansion may have to do with being at Bronze level.

After a few not so effective attempts at mutalisk harass at some games, I've generally gone for more "big battle" compositions, though am settling into sometimes using zerglings as patrols to check for expansions.

Zerg vs. Zerg:

This is the matchup I've been disliking the most. I've won a few of these, when the other player doesn't expand, but often seem to loose them as well in really annoying ways, where the attacks or scouting I do seems to show up at the wrong time, and the other player somehow ends up with an advantage, which than gets used towards the middle. If the other player doesn't expand, or doesn't play aggressively enough, than I can eventually win, but the opening issues are very, very frustrating.

I generally prefer to get roaches to start, and than go from there.

Zerg vs. Terran

I haven't had too many of these games, and they don't seem to be against very good players, or the style of terran that's easier to use at this level isn't very agressive. The games I've played tend to involve me out-expanding the other player, than overwhelming them with zerglings, infestors, and ultralisks. I'll have to see how future games go for this matchup.

Zerg vs. Protoss

This one seems to have had the most variety. Sometimes I get hit with early attacks, as with zerg vs zerg, but I seem to survive these attacks better against protoss, and can often come back and win. Protoss balls of death I've run into a lot, and these are often really frustrating to deal with.

2 v 2

I'm still in placement matches for these games (I have played 1 game with a teammate, though we seem to have never been on at the same time since, which is too bad, as the first team game went well.) These games do seem a lot more variable than the 1v1 games in some ways, and players leaving has certainly kept things interesting. So far, the strategies seem less important than what teammates I get, and who leaves/who doesn't.

I'm not sure how much I'll be playing the game, since I tend ot get really invested in it and can get quite pissed off at loosing, so it may not be fun enough to continue, but at least I've gotten a few games out of it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pharaoh Thoughts

I had played Pharaoh almost a decade ago, but have recently taken it up again, and as is typical of posts on this blog, these are more recent thoughts:

The Good

1. Lots of different types of cities are possible (Which I appreciate a lot more after playing Children of the Nile). Industrial slums, industrial rich areas, mixed income, luxury estate based cities, etc. are possible to build. (I've tended to drift towards building up housing to high level non-estates and getting rich from trade, but have experimented with other types as well.)

2. After playing through the campaign, monument building is quite a fun part of it. Getting the city designed to the point where it can support monument building makes a nice goal, and monument building usually takes a good amount of time that allows a fully functioning city to run for some time, while also including an end point.

3. Housing blocks are generally fun to design.

The Bad

1. Aging is a somewhat annoying mechanic. In game, immigrants have a different age distribution that a settled population has, with the result that immigrants have a larger fraction of workers. This creates a problem where, as a city ages, the amount of workers can shrink significantly, with the result that a city can go from low unemployment, or approximately correct employment, to severe worker shortages. This can make city planning much more difficult over the longer term, since too high unemployment lowers mood, while worker shortages hurt a lot of services and industry. I do know how to work around this, but it is annoying.

2. Due to the fixed prices, where raw materials are often significantly cheaper than finished products, it can be hard to design varied city economies, compared to the other diversity cities can have. Usually city trade and industry boils down to either exporting a finished commodity that a city an produce from raw materials, inporting a raw material and exporting a product, or importing a raw material for a product to be consumed. No export of raw materials usually makes sense.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Guild Wars 2: Mesmer Thoughts

Mesmer for Guild Wars 2 was officially released a day ago, to the shock and surprise of everyone following the profession releases in detail*. As the title suggests, these are my thoughts.

Special Mechanics

Illusions and clones as minion bombers are an odd mechanic to wrap my head around. They do seem somewhat weaker, in a sense, since many apparently get dispelled easily, and it is hard to tell how strong they will be in raw damage compared to, say, exploding necromancer minions. On they other hand, it does seem illusions and associated skills will get a range of "soft" advantages that, if balanced well, will make them powerful as a profession specific mechanic.

Another concern I have is the illusion generating skills may not be a natural part of some play styles, and thus might not be as easily used as other profession mechanics are.

Illusions working like hexes is something I'd guessed (among several other people). I do wonder whether the problem with hexes (lots of different effects to memorize.) will come back to a lesser extent with illusions, though perhaps they were weak enough to not be too much of an issue.

Illusions, immersion wise, do fit quite well with how I'd imagine a mesmer would work, and the animations, sounds, and description fits quite well in the small details.


Though the mesmer does generally fit my predictions (though I guessed it would have daggers, and would not have pistols or a greatsword), the actual choices feel somewhat like a random weapons grab bag, without a strong theme. Some other classes (necromancer, ranger), feel this way as well, but not quite as much. The pistol, in particular, seems a strange one, it doesn't seem to "fit" well with the illusion based, somewhat subtle, mesmer. This is a pretty minor issue, though, and I'll probably experiment with all weapons if I get the game, as with other classes.

As always, I'll be curious what the specific skills and weapon roles are. I'm somewhat curious to see if some of the direct damage spells are called things like "mind blast", "mind shock", and such, associated with direct psychic attacks.

Graphics and Sound

The graphics shown so far work well, fitting with the Original Guild wars mesmer, and how I'd expect this one to work.

The sound for some of the attack skills is more grating than the loud sounds for other classes, am wondering how this will work out in game.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Blizzcon starcraft information, thoughts

These are some thoughts on the starcraft panels this weekend.


I don't like the battle hellion transformation from a setting/immersion point of view, since hellions seem in setting to be a cheap, easy to build vehicle, not something expensive enough to justify a complex transformation system. Perhaps a simpler transformation that just shrinks the unit and adds armor (visually) would fit better. Gameplay wise, it seems a very useful change.

The warhound does resemble Goliaths a lot, though does look cool in its own right. It does seem to look the part of an anti-air unit better than the Thor. (Back in original starcraft 2, I was somewhat surprised by the attempts to play around with the Thor rather than going with something else.) The high ground damage vs. mechanical is a good addition. Against protoss, this would allow it to compete with marine/marauder as a main unit against the heavily mechanical protoss. Against Terran it seems useful against tanks, as demonstrated in the panel.

The Shredder, as mentioned in one of the questions towards the end of the multiplayer panel, does seem like a unit that will get removed thanks to its ability to very quickly destroy workers. It looks cool though.

Vipers seem to have strong potential to be overpowered, though the types of abilities they have are the sorts of things the zerg would find useful. I see this lasting toward the release of the game, but with somewhat less strong abilities.

Swarm hosts don't seem that strong at the moment, but their ability does seem potentially useful. I see these units lasting to release, but with increased spawn rates and/or stronger spawns.

I'm not sure how often Tempests will be used, though they seem to do the job they are intended for well.

Oracles are a nice take on the harassment role, although I wonder how often they'll actually be used, given that they only have one role and don't seem to transition well between harassment and full combat. (Unlikely, say, medivacs/marines or mutalisks.)

Replicants are a strange unit. I don't have much to say beyond the balance and gameplay possibilities and issues mentioned in the panel. In single player, I wonder whether these will be available, and whether I'll be able to use these to copy workers (which is not as useful in multiplayer, but was quite fun in starcraft 1 single player. Starcraft 2 campaigns may not be designed to allow effective use of combined species, though.)

The battlecruiser and reaper upgrades seem unlikely to change much, perhaps slightly increasing the use of the units. The hydralisk upgrade may be more useful, although I don't see big game changes from it. The baneling upgrade I could see being either really powerful or really weak. Using a good amount of detectors which would be available late game would make this ability much less useful, but if someone forgets detectors, it could get a lot more powerful. The Nexus upgrades seem the biggest changes. Teleportation in particular seems a possible major change to how the game is played, whether with proxy nexuses or simply fast defense against harassment.

Single Player

Not much new was revealed, mostly the game seems to work the same as it did when announced in May, so mostly I have similar opinions about the game now as than.

The change in the upgrade system sounds interesting, with the upgrades done through missions rather than points, but I am somewhat worried that it will make upgrade points less flexible. (As in, in the terran campaign, you could save money to upgrade later, focus on specific units to upgrade them quickly, etc. In the zerg campaign, it sounds like the upgrade times may be more fixed than this.)

I'm also wondering what sorts of resources the "brood mothers conquer planets" mechanic would provide, and if there is any way to influence those conquests, or gain other effects from them.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Starcraft 2: Campaign changes

The Starcraft 2 campaign, while fun, does have a lot of problems with the armory upgrades and research, with some being significantly more useful than others. These are some ideas to change this. As far as I know, there is now way to change the campaign, but if I catch wind of a way to do this, it is something I'd definitely go for.

Armory Upgrades

Still organized as 2 upgrades per unit, but in addition, each category of units (Infantry, vehicles, air, possibly buildings) gets a special upgrade that applies to all units in the group.

1. Bunker

Neosteel Frame: +2 spaces in bunkers

Projectile accelerator: +1 range for units in bunkers.

2. Missile Turret

Titanium housing: Increased hit points

Hellstorm batteries: Adds a secondary AoE, low damage/high number of hits attack.

3. SCV

Advanced construction: Several SCV's can build a structure

Dual Fusion welders: Double Repair speed

4. Command center:

Fire Suppression: buildings heal themselves when below 50% health, put out fires.

Orbital Command: Command centers are automatically orbital commands when built, able to call MULEs and scan.

5. Supply Depot

Hardened supplies: Supply depots have more health

Advanced Logistics: Supply depots give +2 supplies

I. Buildings:

Building Armor: all buildings gain +2 armor

1. Marine:

Combat Shield: +15 hit points

High Density Projectiles: +1 range

2. Medic:

Advanced medical facilities: medics do not need tech labs.

Stabilizer Medpacks: medics heal more quickly, for less energy

3. Firebat:

Incinerator Gauntlets: +40% extra splash area

Juggernaut Plating: +2 armor

4. Marauder:

Concussive Shells: marauders gain an AoE slow

Kinetic Foam: +25 hit points

5. Reaper

U-238 shells: +1 range, +1 damage, +3 damage to light units.

G-4 cluster bomb: throws a bomb that deals a large amount of AoE damage when it explodes. Would be changed to explode instantly, or after a much shorter delay, than in the actual game.

6A. Ghosts:

Ocular implants: Ghosts gain +3 vision range and +2 attack range.

Crius Suit: infinite cloak

6B. Spectres:

Psionic Lash: spells that takes 3 seconds to activate and deals 200 damage to the target.

Nyx-class cloaking module: infinite cloak.

II. Infantry:

Stimpack: Infantry units sacrifice health to move and attack faster. When used by medics, reapers, ghosts, and marines, sacrifice 10 life, when used by Marauders, Stingers, and Firebats, loose 20 life. Medics simply move faster, heal speed is not increased.

1. Hellion

Thermite filaments: +10 damage to light units

Twin Linked flamethrower: hellions can fire on the move, flame area doubled.

2. Vulture:

Field Mines: increases blast radius and detection radius by 33%.

Shockwave Grenades: Vultures do full damage to all defensive types.

3. Diamondback:

Shaped Hull: +50 base hit points

Tri-lithium Power Cell: +1 range

4. Goliath:

Multi-lock Weapons: Goliaths can shoot at air and ground targets at the same time.

Ares Class targeting system: +3 air range, +1 ground range

5. Siege Tank:

Maelstrom Rounds: +450 damage to main target in siege mode.

Shaped Blast: Siege tanks do reduced friendly fire damage

6. Thor:

330mm Barrage Cannon: Bombards an area, stunning the central target. Can be targetted either on a unit or an area.

Immortality Protocol: When a Thor dies, it becomes a wreckage that can be repaired back to a Thor for less than the cost of a new Thor.

III. Vehicles

Self Repair: Vehicles repair 1 hit point per second when damaged, up to full health out of combat. In combat, they heal 1 hit point/2 seconds, up to half health.

1. Medivac:

Advanced Healing AI: Medivacs can heal 2 targets at once.

Rapid Deployment Tubes: Medivacs unload soldiers almost instantly.

2. Wraith:

Displacement Fields: Wraiths can remain cloaked for longer, and while cloaked, evade 30% of attacks.

Penetrator missiles: Wraiths gain +2 air attack range and an extra +5 damage to massive units.

3. Viking:

Phobos Class weapons system: +1 ground range, +2 air range

Ripwave Missiles: Viking missiles do AoE damage.

4. Banshee:

Cross Spectrum Dampeners: Cloaking lasts twice as long for the same energy.

Shockwave Battery: Banshees do line AoE damage.

5. Battlecruiser:

Advanced Weapons: The battlecruiser can launch missile pods (AoE air damage), or Plasma beams (AoE ground damage)

Defensive Matrix: Battlecruisers can create a defensive matrix that absorbs up to 200 hit points and lasts up to 20 seconds.

IV. Air Units:

Enhanced Fabrication: Starports build units 25-33% faster.

Unit Changes

Hellion: Wider flamethrower range for campaign. (Probably double or so from what it already is in the campaign, with the armory upgrade further doubling it.)

Vulture: Automatically replenishes mines for free. Replenishment takes some time.

Diamondback: Coast reduced from 150 minerals, 150 gas, 4 supply to 125 minerals, 125 gas, 3 supply.

Siege Tank: Reduced damaged, reduced damage to light units. (Possibly reduced to multiplayer levels.)

Wraith: Gas cost reduced from 150 to 100, Tech reactor requirement removed.

Research Changes

Protoss 1:

Ultra Capacitors: 5% attack speed increase per attack upgrade.

Vanadium Plating: 5% hit point increase per armor upgrade.

Protoss 2:

Micro-filtering: 25% faster gas gathering.

Orbital Depot: instant supply depot construction.

Protoss 3:

Command Center Reactor: Can build 2 SCV's at once, doubles Orbital Command energy regeneration, halves Planetary fortress cooldown time.

Automated Refinery: Refineries automatically harvest gas with no SCV's needed.

Protoss 4:

Science Vessel: Has 3 abilities: nano repair (repairs mechanical units for energy), Electromagnetic pulse (reduces shields and energy in an area), irradiate (irridiates an enemy biological units, the unit and nearby units take damage over time.). Detects.

Raven: Has 4 abilities: nano repair, Point Defense drone (prevents projectile attacks at the cost of energy), Autop-turret (marine-like damage, somewhat high hit points, fixed in place), Seeker missile (takes a long time to reach its target and does nothing it it takes too long, deals a large amount of AoE damage if it hits). detector.

Protoss 5:

Orbital Strike: All constructed units automaticall spawn at their production building's rally point.

Tech Reactor: functions and a reactor and tech lab combined into one.

Zerg 1:

Shrike Turret: Bunkers gain a turret that deals marine-like damage.

Fortified Bunker: Bunkers gain 150 hit points.

Zerg 2:

Perdition Turret: Allows construction of a turret that buries in the ground when not attacking, and deals AoE flame damage.

Planetary Fortress: Allows command centers/orbital commands to upgrade to planetary Fortresses, that cannot lift off, but deal large amounts of damage to attackers.

Zerg 3:

Stinger: Marauder like unit with 6-8 range that deals high anti-air damage, but low ground damage.

Supply Truck: Ground based unit that heals nearby mechanical units. Less effective than a science vessel/raven, and no special abilities, but is a ground unit, and cheaper.

Zerg 4:

Cellular Reactor: units with energy start with 100 extra, and have +100 maximum.

Regeneration: All terran units gain a regeneration of 1% maximum hit points per second.

Zerg 5:

Psi Disruptor: Slows enemy zerg units by up to 30% move and attack speeds.

Hive Mind Emulator: Can permanently control zerg units.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Guild Wars 2: Reactions to Gamecom/PAX/Sylvari info

These are some thoughts on the recently released Guild Wars 2 information.

Sylvari Information

Generally like the released information, though nothing sticks out as being more or less interesting than the other race weeks.

The Sylvari redesign was kind of interesting to read about, although they still look pretty close to the originals. Am curious to see what the full range of Sylvari options will end up being.


PvP maps seem interesting to read about, and the descriptions from people who have played at the trade shows point in a good direction. These maps, do, though, seem pretty complex for a 5v5 match, with more players needed for the different pathways and mechanics to be used effectively.

Character Customization

At the moment, seems both limited and wide open, depending on which descriptions I read. The options available can certainly be expanded to cover a lot of appearances, but descriptions out of the trade shows suggest that the available options don't fully cover the possible options.

New Weapons

Greatsword on a ranger looks somewhat interesting, somewhat boring. It does seem to fill the role of "high damage", but otherwise seems somewhat generic.

Earth Attunement is a bit less focused than I expected, although does still have some interesting looking defensive skills. I do like the idea of bleeds and knockdowns, though, which do fit well how Anet describes the "control" role working.

Hammer doesn't have as many knockdowns as expected, although does have a good variety of control skills. I like what I see.
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