Archive for May, 2007

Pirates III is Out

There are some people who would say to me, “James, being an extreme Pirates of the Caribbean fanboy, having eagerly awaited the conclusion of the trilogy for months, and having been one of the first to see the third movie (having gone at 12:01 AM on May 25th), do you feel that it has been worthy of the anticipation, lack of sleep, ten bucks, and “Pirates” name?

The people who ask these things don’t exist, but I’ll flatter myself and pretend that they do.

To these sorts of people, I shall reply:

(Spoiler. Mom, don’t cheat.)
Continue reading ‘Pirates III is Out’



Inspired by this post, I’ve been designing a simplified version of Defense of the Ancients. I call it “TinyDoTA.”


The goal: A simple, easy to learn, hard to master version of DoTA that can be played through in 15 minutes.

Disclaimer: I’m not actually any good at DoTA. I’ve probably missed some stuff.



Get a class system working. Ideally three classes, maybe five. Good, well balanced, etc. I’m thinking the classic Warrior, Archer, and Rogue system. Maybe a Mage class, too.



Smaller map. For LAN play, four people. The more people the game requires, the harder it is to lean and get into.


The Rich Get Richer

Corpse runs

The other player won’t get any gold from killing a PC. Actually, maybe something like the bonus system in allegiance. For each kill (regardless of PC or NPC), the player’s bonus multiplier goes up. When killed, they pop out as a ghost and must run to their ancient. The opposing team could attack the ghost, but doing so would cause the player to respawn instantly, loosing their XP bonus. Would have to be balanced so that this was controversial. (What fun is a game if you always know what the other side will do?)



If you get behind the leveling curve on DoTA, you’re pretty much worthless. Worse than worthless, since going out will likely result in your death, feeding the other team. Maybe each team sends out more powerful units in direct relation to the opposition. For example, if the other team has high level characters, send out big units that give little XP. If the other team has low level characters, send out little units that have high XP. Maybe this would be counterproductive, since it would make the game drag out too long.



Having everyone stay would be even more important with only four people. If one person left, their some of XP would have to be transferred to the other player to compensate. How much is too much? Either that, or an NPC would be called in to take over their unit. Would need to respond to the basic DoTA chat and take commands. Also, would have to be weak enough that a human player was always better.



Your items are your character in DoTA. There are a ton of them, too. I’m not entirely sure how to manage this aspect. There are far too many of them for quick access, in my humble opinion. An interesting game mechanic would be to make each enemy tower a store. The closer to the enemies base, the better items. You’d have to go right up next to a tower while being attacked by it to make your selection. Perhaps one would simply have to stand next to a tower for some period of time to unlock new items back at the store in one’s base.


So, yeah. That’s all I’ve got so far. Anyone else have ideas?

XFCE Usability

Just a quick shoutout for people using Xubuntu and having trouble consolidating everything onto one taskbar/panel…

Xubuntu has an invisible spacer on the top panel to keep the system tray and clock plugins all the way on the right. If you want to have the tasklist take up all avalible space on the panel, you will need to locate and kill this spacer, otherwise it pushes everything on the right side of the panel off-screen.

The great thing about this spacer is that you have no idea that it’s there, you only find it by observing the wacky behavior of the panel when you re-arrange plugins. I would suggest that the XFCE developers mimic Firefox, and show a white box or the text “spacer” or something in edit mode to let the user know that there is, in fact, something on the taskbar that they can’t see. I only found the spacer by moving everything on the panel to the extreme left and right clicking on a whim.

Huzzah for usability! Tune in next week, when uncle Frem shows you how to make a complete desktop environment using only forty-eight thousand dollars and your teeth.

Windows Desktop Search No More

Dear Microsoft,
Through some tragic accident, Windows Desktop Search recently became installed upon the Windows XP partition of my machine. Perhaps it was required by Office 2007. Maybe Windows Update installed it as a secret bonus. I don’t know. I don’t appreciate it.

“Why not?”, you ask. Maybe it’s the way my search functionality suddenly changed without my consent. Perhaps it’s how my disk is constantly grinding and how I am forced to compete for processor cycles. I hypothesize that it might have something to do with how the indexing service randomly starts up, even when I’ve disabled it using Administrative Tools. It might even be how the constant indexing continues, even when this laptop is running on battery power. Whatever the reason, I’ve had enough of it.

Have you looked into Beagle? It does a little thing which I find very special. It indexes when I’m not using the computer. Think about it.



iGoogle logoNo, seriously. iGoogle.

Lawsuit in 3… 2… 1…

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