A new paper game for engineers

Here is a new game for science and engineering, to determine between two people:


  • Two pairs of scissors. If someone is left-handed, they should have left-handed scissors.
  • A large sheet of paper with perfect 90° corners
  • Some witnesses
  • A planimeter or something like it


  1. Select by mutual agreement the distance in from the edge to cut. For an A4 or 8½ × 11, maybe 3 cm or 1 in.
  2. At the same time, start each person starts cutting a strip off their side of the paper by using the scissors.
  3. When complete, the witnesses use the planimeter to determine the variation from a true straight line of each of the two cuts. The person with the smallest total area above and below the perfect line wins.
  4. If both are identical, the person who did it using fewer cuts wins.
  5. If both are identical, the person who did it more quickly wins.

This is best done with waste or scrap paper that is blank on one side, to prevent paper waste.

As an advantage over the other paper based game, rock-paper-scissors, it is based on skill and not chance.

Conundrum II

I work as an inspector of products.

I was at a safe but close distance to a worker.

The worker started his work, and I looked the other way.

My boss, seeing this, complimented me.

None of the three of us are corrupt, and there is no secret agreement between any of us.

What is up?

Games that can (now) Live Forever: 3 in Three

3 (!) years ago, I mentioned a computer game from the days of System Software (6 and 7) called “3 in Three”. Now, because of technological advances, we have a ready-made way of playing it: by emulation!

With some effort and alot of time, you can see things like this (spoiler for persons with photographic memory):

Continue reading Games that can (now) Live Forever: 3 in Three

Very minor art mistake in EU4

More posting about that favorite “grand strategy” game Europa Universalis IV or “EU4”.

In EU4 you play as a country in the world starting (usually) in 1444 and try to survive until 1821. Now as time moves along you get to select “national ideas”, which are nifty little bonuses that improve the performance of your country. NIs, as they are called by regular players, are grouped into groups, so we have things like Maritime, Quality, Administrative, etc. These groups have icons, like so:


What’s the problem with this one?

Continue reading Very minor art mistake in EU4

Not clear icon overlay in EU4

Continuing from my previous post about EU4, I found another interface oddity.

Some context: In EU there are “provinces”, which are similar to cities in the Civilization games. Some of these have fortifications that require you to siege them. To do this, you need to have a certain number of troops in the province. If you do not, you can’t besiege the place.

The icon for this situation is shown in the image below (the little red thing):

Too few troops to siege this province.

Most of the iconography in this image is apparent to the player, though possibly highly confusing to a newbie. The red icon though I cannot tell the meaning of. It just looks like a squiggle with an exclamation point after it.

Tolerance of imperfection v. time in deeply detailed gaming

For people who play games that allow massive numbers of choices all the time (such as a strategy game), let me ask a question:

Suppose you are starting a single player campaign from scratch. Your plan is well laid out in your mind and you know the game mechanics well. You’re not interested in experimenting this time. You start off… and something goes badly. Do you restart? (I’m assuming you can’t reload from a save.)

Let’s be more quantitative (or try to):

Suppose you had a graph. The x-axis is time, either real or game time, whichever is appropriate. The y-axis is likelihood of giving up and restarting or just quitting and not coming back.

Does it look like this:


Or more like this?


Or something else entirely?

I guess this is a proxy question for how seriously you take your particular game, and how perfectionistical you are. (;

Let me know with a comment.

You can rename your provinces in EU4

I had posted a week or so ago about a “grand strategy” game I play. It is called Europa Universalis 4, or “EU4” for short. Essentially you pick a country (doesn’t have to be in Europe) and try and either conquer the world, conquer parts of the world, get achievements, or just survive from 1444 to 1821.

The game is notoriously moddable, but one thing I noticed that I had overlooked for ages because it is so well hidden, is that you can rename provinces you own without having to change text files.

To do this:

  1. Click the province to open it.
  2. Click the name of the province (in the upper left)
  3. Type in what you want.

The change is immediately visible on the map and also in all dialogs. You can change the provincial capital as well.

For some reason, the fact that it is editable is nowhere indicated in the UI, which is strange to me.

Register shift in Civ III installer

In linguistics there is register, meaning the formality level of speech or writing.

Installers or “Setup” programs – at least those made to run in Microsoft Windows – are traditionally use a higher register. I suspect this is because the common installer programs (InstallShield, WISE, etc.) were that way with their boilerplate text, such as the introduction page, the scary copyright warning, and similar.

One place that is left up to the person making the installer is the system components and requirements specification. For Civilization III (a good strategy game, by the way) the person responsible got a little loose:

Description box reading “This installs the game onto the hard drive, leaving all movies and music files on the CD. It requires approximately 500 megs of free hard drive space.”

Continue reading Register shift in Civ III installer

In over my head

I’ve been playing a so-called “grand strategy” computer game for years now. Not the same game itself, but the same software. Unfortunately I’ve gotten something of an addiction to it. Nothing I can’t set down when I need to, which I have when I needed to work on something else.

Essentially this game involves playing as the head of a country and trying to surpass other countries over several centuries. There are the usual wars, but also diplomacy and finantial concerns, local affairs and multiple balancing acts to keep things going smoothly.

Anyway, I’ve been playing as England/Great Britain and got several (game-time) centuries into it before a “disaster” happened. These are preprogramed events that are meant to seriously challenge the player. Well, I’ve got quite beaten and feel like giving this particular game up. I’m seriously outgunned and have multiple rebels going off everywhere and no way to fight them off.

This is making me sigh for two reasons. First, I’ve put alot of work into this game so I wanted to carry it to a conclusion. I may yet, I don’t know. Secondly, up until now it had been going really well, so I felt a little like I was cycling down hill and suddenly had a blowout!

Fortunately I can distract myself with the phone interview I’m having tomorrow.

Animal croquet from China in the maybe 70s

More consumer product archaeology. Found this in a display case at my grand mothers old house.

Animal Croquet / Made in China. I cannot tell what is under the black mark. I do not know the four characters in the upper right. The white parallel lines are very old packing tape.

I’m guessing this is pre-1973 and the “China” refers to what we now call Taiwan. The characters above “Made in China” begin with 中國 and not 中国, so it is unlikely it came from larger China. Hong Kong, being British at this time, would have been marked “Made in Hong Kong” most likely. Similary with (Portugeze) Macau. Both Chinas were then under single party despotizms of different sorts, KMT or CPC.

All this aside, it is a little strange and somewhat freaky. It cost 1.50 USD according to the price tag on the back of the box. Note the strange, possibly custom, font for “Croquet”.