Category Archives: gaming

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

3 (!) years ago, I mentioned a PC game (actually a Macintosh game) 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:


Misfit vowels sounds like something from elementary school English. Maybe like Number Munchers, but different? Speaking of which, 3 in Three isn’t supposed to be educational, but neither are crossword and the like puzells.

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

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.

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.

Unlocked v. Obtained

Question: Has anyone else ever wondered at the common term “achievement unlocked”? It is used in videogames to indicate a particularly noteworthy, interesting or difficult task has been successfully performed by the player. Heck there is even a series of games whose focus is nothing be obtaining (rather trivial) achievements. The first, and best in my opinion, is simply “Achievement Unlocked“.

To me, unlocking something (in a game) provides further functionality or ability. Achievements usually do neither, and are just a nice trophy to look at. Wouldn’t “obtained” or “earned” make more sense, since that is usually how trophies are gotten?

Games that (should) Live Forever: 3 in Three

3 in Three was a Macintosh only game put out by Cliff Johnson. The plotline: You are a numeral three in an Excel spreadsheet in a computer (obviously a Macintosh) that gets bumpt off the spreadsheet by accident and are now stuck inside the machine. You have to work your way up from the lowest depths of binary, through the intermediate levels of characters, symbols, math and letters in order to return to the application level and your supposed “right” place in the inner world.

You do this by engaging in superlogical trains of thought such as figuring out that “NME” spells “Enemy” and that 7 + 5 = 2. Also highly notable is the degree to which the Macintosh user interface (menu bar) is subordinated to the game, serving regularly as a button rather than a menu. I have no experience with the music or sound effects, but they really aren’t needed to justify my explanation of the game as being amazzing and completely worth the effort of getting System 7 running in BasiliskII or other emulator in order to play the game.

It is free from the author, at his website:

I am eagerly awaiting the successor “3” games that he claims to be making. Note that his latest game was about 10 years in production, so don’t write it off as vaporware.

Games that (should) Live Forever: Glider PRO

Most everyone who has lived for a while with a PC or Macintosh (or other device) has found at least one thing they just think is such a classic it should never die. I have at least three.

Oddly, the one I’m a-going to feature today is made solely for Macintoshes, specifically the so-called “Classical”, but really original, version of the systems. Consequently, it won’t run on modern “correct” Macintoshes but requires an emulator. I actually never really played it on its native platforme because I didn’t really like Macintoshes and so didn’t have one. I used the BasiliskII emulator to get System 7.5.5 up and running and therefore had a platform to run it on.

First of all, the game itself is based on the idea of paper airplanes, specifically semi-magical, semi-technical ones. You don’t fold them, but you do fly them. You go through a house to pick up magical stars. The bonus items are clocks (that actually tell the correct time) because, as the author, John Calhoun said, “everyone always wants more time”.

I wish I could even begin to describe the amazing feeling that comes from playing the game. It’s peace, calm and innocency, yet highly addictive and replayable. Even when you get an unwanted “gameover” the ragequit isn’t really a “rage” quit, it’s more of a “sigh” quit. To my knowledge, it is absolutely unique. To see what I mean, you can listen to the music and/or play a web-based version of it:

I highly recommend both of them.