Flutterby™! : Battle of Survival

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Battle of Survival

2005-11-07 19:38:26.016049+00 by Dan Lyke 7 comments

As of late last week, Forest[Wiki] is no longer living with us, but Charlene's out of town, so we got together to play a game yesterday. We both have legal copies (obtained at some difficulty) of Total Annihilation[Wiki], a great game that's also easy enough on computer resources that it'll run well on my laptop. Alas, we couldn't find the CDs, and it requires the CDs to run, so I did some poking about and grabbed Invasion - Battle of Survival, an RTS based on the Stratagus engine. There are several games that run on Stratagus, and while Invasion - Battle of Survival wasn't quite as lightweight as I'd hoped it did run sufficiently well to give us a little head-to-head, and even team versus computer, action.

[ related topics: Games Open Source ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-11-07 21:26:15.200926+00 by: ebradway

Wish I'd known. I could have sent you an ISO. TA is one of my favorite games of all time. I own several licenses - just because I bought a couple different versions of the boxed sets.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-11-07 22:17:04.715532+00 by: Dan Lyke

I poked around trying to find a pirated ISO, but all the torrents were dead. I know my copy is around here, and I know he's got a copy 'cause I bought it for him and we played a month or so ago, but... oh well.

I wonder what happened that the franchise hasn't been kept alive. It's still a staple at LAN parties with the kids I know, the graphics may not be graphic or zoomable, but the gameplay rocks. Seems like a place where a publisher seriously dropped the ball.

Have you looked at TA Spring?

#Comment Re: made: 2005-11-08 15:27:36.918171+00 by: ebradway

Wow! Some people really don't have a like ;) I'll have to give TA Spring a try once I finish my MS thesis. I've vowed not to play any computer games until my thesis is done...

The original TA CaveDog crew was headed by some big-name designer. TA wasn't his first hit - but he moved on afterward. I don't understand why the remnants at CaveDog didn't just roll out a TA II based on the same design - just redone for better hardware...

... Oh wow! I just tried to go to CaveDog.com and found that they are now part of Atari. That sucks. I don't understand why game developers aren't happy to just keep producing quality franchises off known good foundations. There really is a market for $20 upgrades to good games. When I worked at MicroSports, I kept telling the boss that the effort and cost to take our statistcally accurate football SIM to 3D and arcade-style play was: A. too expensive, B. would screw up the stats, and C. there's no way we could compete against Madden. We had a small crew with an operating budget under $100K/mo. We could have turned out 3-4 stat sims a year - the kind of thing that stat freaks buy every year. But no... We had to go after the 15,000,000 sale market that Madden dominates...

When I do play video games now, it's usually the Ms. Pac-Man cocktail table down at Lupi's Pizza. That game was released in 1981 and it's still fun. One key thing is that it really depends on a solid controller. Hence my explorations into making a 4-way joystick for the PC using arcade controllers. I think it's going to morph into a full-blown MAME machine at some point...

#Comment Re: made: 2005-11-08 15:31:56.76446+00 by: ebradway

Oh... And I forgot that TA uses IPX for network play. Ugh! I got into TA because it was one of the first games really taking advantage of DirectX 5 (DX6 was in beta). DX5 had DirectPlay in it - or rather - it was a separate download. But IPX means you have to use Kali to get it to work over the internet. That really takes me back to my MicroSports days. I route our head-to-head gameplay stack. It allowed for IPX, Kali, Modem, and direct-cable without no stinken' DirectX. I wrote directly to the IRQs and IOs!

BTW, IPX guarantees things like packet ordering and delivery - stuff that IP doesn't. To get a game working over Kali, you have to write your own routines to handle out-of-order packets and dropped packets. Fun!

#Comment Disconnected sound bites made: 2005-11-08 19:35:40.160076+00 by: Dan Lyke

The designer is Chris Taylor[Wiki], last I heard was working with EA on some "zoom from global conflict to controlling armies to squads to an individual soldier and back up" sort of thing. It may have actually been shipped, I don't know.

I think that the way to redo it for better hardware would be to not change the graphics, but to up the unit limits, map sizes, and use 3d hardware where available for better compositing and such.

One of the problems with staying small, especially with sports games, is that there was a race to exclusive licensing. I'm not sure what the legal situation would have been with distributing real sporting stats associated with real names and real teams, but my guess is that the only way to tread that line once EA colluded with the MLB would be to facilitate and encourage lots of fan created art.

On IPX vs IP, once you include packet ordering and delivery you may as well just run with TCP...

#Comment Re: made: 2005-11-08 19:43:07.205135+00 by: Dan Lyke

Here's the game: Supreme Commander, coming in 2006.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-11-09 01:00:44.073777+00 by: ebradway

You're right in some senses about the licensing issues. But the real problem is than an MLB license to use team names costs about $100K. In a small shop, that's big bucks, especially when you consider that the Major League Baseball Players Association licenses player names separately. Raw stats are considered fact and public domain - like phone numbers. To get around all of this, MicroSports would release the game with surrogate names and logos for teams. You could create your own PCX file that would replace the surrogates in the game (or download one from an AOL account setup under a pseudonym by one of the programmers).

We never did NBA because, there, each player manages their own licensing. In collegiate sports, the CLC manages everyone except four schools, including Notre Dame. It's amazing how fast Notre Dame will sue you if you do something like save a rendition of a similar fight song with a file name that more closely matches the name of their fight song... Ugh! I have one of the only copies of MicroSports College Football '97 because they were all recalled and destroyed for that one little violation...

MicroSports did have the ear of the NFL and exclusive licensing for a number of years. But the boss dropped the ball one year and tried to hold out for a lower licensing fee.

The issue with IPX vs. IP was that we were DOS games. We had an IPX stack, thanks to Novell, but no one had an IP stack at the time (without depending on Windows). That's why TA requires IPX. Even by the time Win95 was release, there weren't any APIs designed for games that worked across IP. Everyone wrote to IPX and used Kali to run it across IP. And some of the first patches for these games were packet scheduling!