Entries Tagged 'Games' ↓

From Russia with Love

Back in July, Link TV aired one of the most fascinating documentaries I’ve seen in recent years. It was the story of fiendish addiction, intimidation, and high-stakes legal feuds set against the backdrop of Cold War tensions. And the cause of this real-life drama? A video game.

The BBC documentary, Tetris: From Russia with Love, chronicled how a simple, black-and-white, silent computer game started out as a prisoner behind the Iron Curtain, then suddenly escaped and went on to become one of the most popular titles of all time. Well-written and artfully photographed, the first half of the show focused on the birth of Tetris, explaining how Alexey Pazhitnov came up with the original idea and programmed it on his Electronika 60 (a Russian clone of the PDP-11) while working for the Soviet Academy of Sciences in Moscow.

The second half of the show was arguably more exciting, but it focused on the business aspects—contract disputes with the Kremlin, million-dollar royalties, that sort of thing—and ironically, that’s when I got a little bored. I was much more interested in the video clips of “ancient” computer systems. For instance, check out how big the floppy disks were back in the early 1980s:

Floppy disk of the 80s

Still, the documentary is well worth watching, especially if you played Tetris as a kid or have any interest in video game history. If it ever comes back on the air, I highly recommend tuning in.

A comeback game in Warcraft III

This summer I’ve gotten into the habit of playing Warcraft III online. Unlike certain other online games that are all the rage these days, WC3 isn’t a timesink. Games only last about twenty minutes on average, and they’re self-contained, so you don’t feel like you have to keep playing to build up your character’s experience points or inventory or whatever.

My favorite format is the three-on-three pick-up game, in which the server selects six random people and forms them into two ad hoc teams. One such game was a bit more interesting than most, so I saved it as a replay. (You can play it back if you happen to own a copy of Warcraft III.) Here’s a play-by-play:

11:30 The opposing team masses an army of Level 2 units and rushes Orange.
14:15 Orange’s base is toast, and Teal delcares his team the winner. Orange gives up and leaves the game. It’s over! …or is it?

Orange faces destruction
Orange faces destruction.

17:00 The opposing team now sets their sights on me. Purple advises that I retreat to his base, so I teleport there.
18:00 As my base is being destroyed, Purple and I counter-attack Red.
20:00 Caught off-guard, the opposing team tries to defend Red, but it’s too late. Red is annhilated, leaving Green and Teal. Armed only with Purple’s base and my five Chimeras, is victory possible?
20:30 I send my Chimeras for an end run around the back of Green’s base. He has no AA, so the Chims destroy his base easily. Only Teal remains!
22:30 My Chimeras make another end run, this time to the back of Teal’s base, destroying his gold mine.
27:00 Teal and Green attack us in a last-ditch effort, sending everything they’ve got. It’s a battle for the center!

Battle for the center
It’s a battle for the center!

27:30 The opposing team’s Level 2 units are no match for our Level 3 Chimeras and Tauren! Green and Red give up.
28:00 Teal, deprived of gold by my Chimeras, has no units and admits defeat.
28:18 Victory! What a comeback!