Review By Jeff Goins, Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine
Well, one of my favorite games of the old arcade days was sorely missed. Of course I'm talking about Battle Zone. The game of 3D wireframe tanks duking it out on a 3D wireframe landscape in the noise-laden halls of video arcade honor. It was always great to find a friend and go blow each other to wireframe bits amidst the vector graphic mountains and hills of the early 1980's.
Notice I said the game WAS sorely missed. Until now. The game that took its place in my heart is none other than Battle Zone itself! Yes! Battle Zone is now an incredible 3D combat game for the PC, and I love it! It has been completely updated for today's PC gaming needs. Fantastic #d graphic and sounds are only the beginning. Now, it's a real time, action-strategy game. To date, it's the best I've played. Here's why.
I am in control of the scene from any one of 25 diferrent war machines or bail out to find a better one, all while commanding my force to take over the Russkies ships for salvage. The rate of play is intense and the battle sounds are enough to make me feel like I'm there. The graphics are reminiscent of Quake which makes it a familiar face to begin play. I loved jumping out and taking pot shots at the enemy with my sniper rifle, too cool.
The weapons are very interesting with very cool combinations with which to experiment. I just started playing it today, so I have a lot of experimenting to do to find that perfect combo.
Calling in the artillery is one the cooler features of the game. Watching as the bombs are deployed into the enemies ranks from afar made me feel like I was really in control.
The interface is smooth and efficient and very creatively done. The HUD give lots of options right there at my fingertips, including a topographic radar display that gives a 100 yard terrain display, and a nav beacon camera that I can set and watch what happens from a remote location. All the features and abilities combined with teh interface make Battle Zone one of the coolest games I've ever played, definately the coolest game this year.
Campaign Cartographer II
by Jeff Goins, Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine
Program Courtesy once again of PROFANTASY SOFTWARE
When using the older DOS version of CC Pro, the things I wish I had are all the obvious Windows-based icons and object-oriented…well, Windows! I like the portable format of the windows based program and the new CC2 of course by its very nature has that.
I ran into just a few problems off the bat because of, I found out later from tech support, a bad installation file. The problems were easily fixable and didn’t detract from the value of the program as a whole. I will mention the problems I had and where to go to fix them a bit later.
As I think EVERYONE knows, I love the previous versions of CC, DD, CD, and CC Pro, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I also swear by this version as well. It uses a very effective CAD engine to create the maps and such, and the interface uses mostly what I like to call common sense tools. It is so frustrating to use a program that was created by engineers who never actually use the programs themselves (or at least that’s how it would seem after a few minutes of using their programs). I believe the creators of CC2 are gamers who know what gamers really need. The difference is almost entirely the Windows-based interface. CC2 still maintains the right-click functionality of the previous versions, a feature I find very useful. It also features all the nifty tools and icons as any good Windows-based program should. Nothing bothers me more than a Windows program that when opened, displays a blank screen and only a few buttons. I mean, Come On! That’s what Windows is all about! Can you say GUI? Well, that is the strongest feature of CC2, it has loads of buttons and shortcut-providing icons that one can click and get results without having to search through all the menu screens. It seems like every possible aspect of map creation is represented by some kind of button or icon. Very cool.
Another great aspect of the app that differs from the older versions of CC is the colors. CC Dos is limited to line art and sixteen colors. Which worked out ok in DOS. The maps I created of Eathas in CC all look very cool, but those I’m creating in CC2 are even cooler. When selecting a color for that building, simply click on the color bar and the color appears in the symbol catalogue, as it will in your map. Custom colors can be added and the symbols can be either line art or filled for a better effect.
Editing and changing parts of a drawing is as easy as any GUI CAD program (even easier than a few I’ve used, but those reviews will come later). Adding and removing nodes of a line, changing the colors of a road, the direction of a parabolic spline, the layer of a house, the fill style of a wall, whatever, it’s right there within easy reach of a button. The machine I’m using CC2 on right now is a 486 DX2 66 Mhz Packard (yech, ptui) Bell, so the response time for the dragging and such is not as good as it could be, but that’s not the fault of CC2, it’s my machine.
As always, the tutorials are great. Very informative and helpful, a big plus there. And, even though the Windows version is a much easier interface than the DOS version, it is still a good idea to read and explore the user’s guide before getting into that major project. I applaud the technical support efforts of the creators of CC2, their web site is full of free advice, tools, and patches that many other companies would charge to access (and get it too!). It’s more like joining the company than just buying a product. They are always interested in what the consumer has to say, and will always reply to a question or problem set forth.
Now, the trouble spots. There are a few trouble areas I had with CC2 that were fixed easily enough, but my first reaction was, wow, this sucks, what am I gonna do now? I had no luck at all in updating old CC FCD files to new CC2 FCW files. I went to the web site and got the fix for that and it worked very nicely, thank you. The other problem I had was when I tried to load certain example maps, the lines would be far too thick and certain things would not show up and such. Again, no problem. The installation program just didn’t set defaults correctly and with simple advice from the web site FAQ the problem was corrected and would not be repeated. If you have any of these problems or others, email them email@example.com and they will help you.
All in all, I highly approve of CC2 as THE CAD mapper to have if you’re into the RPG thing (and other abbreviations) and would recommend it highly. Good job guys.
Copyrighted 1998 by Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine, http://www.dwarventavern.net
Steve Jackson Games Interview with Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine via e-mail in response to not attending GENCON 1998.
> DTC* Steve Jackson Games has officially stated that the company will not be
>attending GENCON by stating various reason, increase in price,
> and the "Grandfather clause". Would you care to elaborate?
It has been years since the average mid-range company could make money at
GenCon. What used to be a valuable help to cash-flow has become a drain.
Still, almost everyone went, because almost everyone went . . . we all
thought we "had to go." The latest price increase made it clear to several
companies, acting independently, that we did NOT have to go.
The "grandfather clause" is a new system that locks in established
preferences for booth space to the biggest companies, to the detriment of
>DTC* How will not attending GENCON affect access to your target market?
Hey, that's the question. WotC wants us all to believe it will really hurt
us. I think that, thanks to the Net, we can reach our target market just
fine without going to any one particular con. And we will be attending lots
of OTHER conventions.
> DTC* With the changes in the Gaming Industry buy outs how do you see
>Steve Jackson Games positioning itself in the industry now? What
>direction would you like to see the industry take? What goals in the
>next several years do you see Steve Jackson Games wishing to reach?
We're working to learn more about electronic gaming and "new media." We
have about a dozen great games that just ache to go on computer.
I'd like to see a real, effective industry organization, with professional
management -- what GAMA should have been -- and some real cooperation,
rather than perdition by whoever happens to be the top company.
As to goals: do more cool games. Continue to attract good staffers. Become
more professional, pay higher salaries, gain world peace and an end to
disease and Beverly Hillbillies reruns.
> DTC* Looking at your site, you supply convention support, will you change
> this now regarding the latest developments? Do you feel Conventions in
> general are a good way to reach your target market and do you feel that
> convention have gotten pricey as well as low profit makers?
We will be supplying more con support and ever, to the grass roots cons
that really represent (and really reach) the average gamers. It's only the
big cons, so-called "industry" cons, that have become bloated and pointless.
Steve Jackson - yes, of SJ Games - yes, we won the Secret Service case
Learn Web or die - http://www.sjgames.com/ - dinosaurs, Lego, Kahlua!
The heck with PGP keys; finger for Geek Code. Fnord.
This article has been Copyrightedã 1998 by Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine 2/10/98.
I am a huge fan of Steve Jackson and play his games a lot. He gives us some wonderful games and make our childhood full with pleasure. I read his entire interview and get many important points. Please keep posting these kind of stuff.
Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine Interview with Andon Unlimited, Inc.
By Lisa Goins, Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine
Last year the Gaming Industry witness several changes that went into effect this year. One of the biggest changes was the 30 year old TSR, Inc., a company famous for Dungeon and Dragons, officially passed hand to Wizards of the Coast. Folks wondered what was going to happen to TSR, Inc. convention, GENCON usually held the first part of August. Answers followed soon after that Andon Unlimited, Inc., owned by Wizards of the Coast, convention organizer for GAMA’s Trade Show and Origins, would take over the job.
The beginning of 1998 started the convention organizer’s job of sending out convention packets, advertisement, and pre-registration booklets. This has sparked quite a lot of controversy from several companies voicing their concerns to refusing to attend as well as boycotting the famous "must be there con".
Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine conducted the following interview via e-mail with Andon Unlimited, Inc.
> DTC* Andon Unlimited is responsible for organization of GENCON this year.
> It has became know that the cost has risen from 33-50% depending on whom
> you spoken to in the Gaming Industry. Several ideas have speculation
> that the new facility in Milwaukee is the reason as a potential
> anti-con. Would you care to elaborate?
I'm not sure what you mean by "as an potential anti-con", so I will reserve
Comment on this portion of the question until it is clarified. Prices for
the 1998 GEN CON(r) Game Fair have changed anywhere from -40% to +70% with the
Average being around +30%. Many, many factors have contributed to this much
needed increase. The show was losing money. Remember, TSR (the founder of
GEN CON) was sold due to financial problems that almost caused the
cancellation of last year's show. The economics of the show have changed so
that the show may continue. The cost of a single booth at GEN CON is still
only about 1/3 the cost of a SINGLE 1-page ad in any of this industry's
flagship magazines. This is an excellent value.
>DTC * Several well-known companies that have attended GENCON in the past
> will not or have officially stated they are boycotting this year. Some
> have sited the reason is the "Grandfather clause". Could you explain the
> "Grandfather clause" and how it came about?
This is an incorrect statement. The Grandfather clause does not become
effective until 1999. This year's show is being sold under the exact same
methods used by TSR over the last 30 years. The only Grandfather policy for
1998 was to offer all of last year's exhibitors a special discount if they put
a 50% deposit down by the end of February (TSR required 100% down and didn't
accept company checks forcing even large companies to run to the bank for a
In 1999 a Priority Point method of assigning booths will be implemented.
Simply, points are awarded to a company for all the different ways that they
support the convention. This includes purchasing booths, advertising, being a
manufacturer (instead of a retailer), and for running events for the
attendees. This priority point system has been in effect at our other major
shows for over 2 years now, and works very well. Right now, GENCON is a race
to get your application in with payment. First come - First served. If your
Exhibitor handbook arrives in your office on a day when you are traveling, you
have a very good chance of not getting the booths you want because 60% of the
space will be sold in that first 24 hours. With the priority point method, we
mail the Exhibitor Handbooks 30 days prior to the booths being sold. That
gives every company 30 days to decide what space they want, get the paperwork
through their accounting department, etc. At the end of the 30 days, we start
assigning booths in the order of most priority points to the lowest.
A great example of how beneficial this method is to medium and small companies
is the fact that at Origins '98, the second and third highest point totals
were held by Iron Crown Enterprises and Chamelion Elecktic Ent. Both of these
companies soared to the top of the point totals because of the all the great
events they ran for their fans.
> company part take in any over seeing of last years con and/or will any
> left over GENCON convention staff have been enlisted to aid help this
Senior level Andon staff and volunteers did assist with on-site management of
last year's show for integration reasons. Many of TSR's fine staff will be
back at this year's show helping to keep the tradition of excellence that
everyone is expecting.
The moving of the TSR offices will not impact on the show. The show has not
moved location or time of year. The fans never gathered at the TSR offices
prior to going to the show, they just go to the show - and the show is there
for them. We actually expect attendance to increase this year as there is no
longer any fear that the show will be cancelled, and we are beefing up our
event offerings and adding some amazing Guests of Honor.
>DTC* Last and final question, will GENCON move this year since rumor has it
> negations for a new five year contract has not been reached with the
> City of Milwaukee's Convention Center's new building.
No. I do not expect GENCON to move any time soon.
> DTC**Any additional comments?**
This year's GENCON Game Fair is going to be one of the greatest shows ever!
With almost 70% of the exhibit floor sold (only 19% is WotC/TSR/FRPG) every
game company will be represented in some way. We already have over 1,000
events and over 2.000 registrations for the convention (both new records for
this early date). We are hoping that the few companies that have stated that
they are not buying booths decide to join the show, as we looking forward to
supporting their events, their fans, and the companies themselves. In fact,
registrations and event submissions over our web site http://www.andonunlimited.com/
have reached record levels in the last few days providing hard proof that this
year's GENCON is going to be the one event that is not to be missed.
Thank you for this opportunity to talk with you.
Gary E. Smith
Division Director, Andon Unlimited
Review by Lisa Goins, Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine
Company: Basement Games Unlimited, LLC
Product: Out of Chaos tm
GPA (Game Publishers Association) Member
Distributed USA/ Canada
Price: $19.95 US
Book, color cover, 202 b/w page with art
This product contains the basics you need to get started. You will find a player's guide, referee's guide, combat, magic, and monster sections, sample sheets, and stat sheets for copying.
The foundation for this game is a generic world called Juravia where the theology has influences of the book of Genesis and Greek/Roman mythology upon where you'll find your good and evil gods to govern you character's life. A brief description of the "Great Wars" establishing human and humanoid races containing your basic stats; strength, stamina, intellect, insight, dexterity, awareness, speed, power (magic ability), and my favorite-LUCK. You have several choices of races; humans, elves, and dwarves are among the listed. 1-2-3 kill the referee! Ah the referee, better known as the GM and still better known to the players as GOD! Out of Forge lists the Referee as a Bad Guy. What about when "GOD" let's you live? What's this about using a towel to muffle dice rolls? What about the anxiety you can thrust upon your players as you roll dice just to kill the dull moments and force them to hurry up and get moving or they are going to die soon? A towel? What about a mouse pad? It is the late 90's.
But, those of you familiar with role playing games could easily switch game formats. If you use limited lighting or mood lighting you will find dark backgrounds on the tables hard to read. Novices to roll playing might find the brevity of the book nice but will be frustrated if they are deficient in creative skills.
Review by Lisa Goins, Dwarven Tavern Cyberzine
Company: Sierra Home
Product: Generations Deluxe Edition. Family Tree Software
This is a 4 CD program with book for work with genealogy and research.
I would like to thank Sierra for sending me the Generations (Genealogy) program I requested at the E3 (Atlanta, GA-May 98). While listening to the product described it came up that included was Social Security CD and information on those who had been dead 20 years. Now, at that time my grandmother had just passed so she wasn't listed but her husband who had died 17 years prior to her was listed. Just a few clicks and poof, my grandfather's social security was listed. This could be really great for those having difficulty linking relatives.
Why did I take so long to review this program? Well, I wasn't prepared for the can of worms I would open. First installation to the hard drive wasn't too bad and I actually installed it more than once. This proved troublesome when I found I was saving information in each program. ACK! Then all hell broke loose when my program was bumped for another must save game. (Victim: One Mr. Goins)
Once getting past this issue. I entered data, again. Occasionally I would get lost in all my pages of information. Did I tell you my one grandmother had 14 children and the other had 10 children? So I would use the pedigree tree. Sometimes this wouldn't help since I would be looking for a child not the parent, thus getting lost in all the branches of the family tree. I had to refer to my notes to navigate.
I was getting frustrated with the program because it was a tool to use the information of which I had little to start with and they do warn you it won't do your tree for you. So I tried Cyndi Howells Netting Your Ancestors, a book that comes with your deluxe edition's CD collection. This book is very, very basic. Excellent for the family that hasn't a clue to the Internet. In chapters 1& 2 it explains how to get online and how to e-mail. So skip to chapter 3 if you're reading this. I found several e-mailing list, news groups, etc., which where helpful to me. Did you know "Goins" is one of the 30+ names listed with the Gowan foundation and for a small fee.... Right they didn't have any of our family trees, but when I had completed our tree would I send it in to them.
Then I started with the censuses to locate missing family members. (This can be a good source.) However, because part of the family lived up in the hills and avoided outsiders they were left out of the censuses and those that were mentioned couldn't spell or talked with an accent leaving to variations of the spelling of Goins. As I learned later with the other family names this was very common.
Then I tried the cemetery listings. This too, proved to be a headache. My father-in-law told me the name of the cemetery and it just wasn't listed. Okay, either he's losing his memory, which I seriously doubt or someone hasn't loaded the information, or worse. So after much fuss and fury we loaded up V-GER (Betsy's replacement) and headed south to the hills to find this mysterious place. Don't you love a good mystery?
We found the old dirt road, now paved and the landmark tree from where the cemetery in question got it's name, but no cemetery. There stood a recreation center instead and the cemetery entrance had been moved from where my father-in-law remembered. After much disgust did my mother-in-law decide to get out of the car and smoke. She was in no hurry to see her dead mother-in-law's grave. J Then she spotted it, behind us on the side of a hill. We found the entrance and did we get lucky! The entire family back to 1815/1816 was buried all in one place. I had only expected just to find a few graves and have to keep hunting for years.
We spent the day photographing and recording the list of graves. This is very important to do since not all photographs will come out and using additives to the tombstones will eat away at the information on them. Many cemeteries have not been taken care of or their contents even on record. There are several organizations that have tried to preserve cemeteries listed on the web. As I found out this cemetery our family was buried in had 500 graves with around 200 unknown due to no stones or stones eaten away with time. Later we found a distant cousin who had wrote a book and listed who was in the cemetery, but we found errors in his work and from great-grandmother on, our side was missing. Thus, yours truly became the keeper of the tome of Goins' family history.
Next was my family who put the program through the test. My father's side had their annual reunion and since my grandmother (97) had just died earlier in the year I thought this would be one of the most important reunions to attend. Nearly everyone showed up.
As most researchers will tell you, start with your family. I got them all to give me as much family history as they could. I had them write it in their own handwriting. This promoted accuracy and correct spelling of names. I found out where my great-grandparents were buried and that my great-grandfather came to America when he was only 12. Later I found their tombstone and it was in mint condition. Extremely rare from what I was finding. Since this side of the family lives to be in their 80's and 90's I took great jumps in time, when preparing my family tree.
Next was my mother's family. My mother, a cousin, and several relatives had been working on this side. I'm the only techie in the group, thus using computers and all the information I can grab up. I later linked up with a distant cousin on the net, whom my mother had been calling long distance, saving wads of cash for her. However, just on this side alone I have 40 first cousins. Up came the family reunion and out came loads of information and pictures. I convinced my cousin to loan me his info and my mom, her's plus what I had from everyone else and went to work. I had less than 24 hours to do it all. My cousin was leaving for his long trip back to Florida and wanted to take his one of a kind pictures with him. So into "convention mode" I went. Scanning, copying, typing, loading information. It looked like a final count down to a convention in our office. Not only did I meet my cousin's dead line I made 4 copies of complete info with Sierra's genealogy pedigree overviews taking our family back from 1998 to 1790. This really impressed my family. So I zipped out to my mom's (hour's drive) and handed her copy to keep and one to hand out to the family to copy if they wished, plus one for my cousin. My mom then hopped into the car and drove over to where everyone had gathered to wish everyone good-bye and returned the pictures and the copy. Oohs and ahs as my family drooled over the information I had neatly displayed using Generations. Two days later my mother phoned me to tell me how my (very picky and neat) Aunt had read all the information on the way back to Florida and what a neat overview of the family I had provided with the program I had used. It was official, I was now the guardian of this side of the families tome.
Over all the program got me started but had little to offer me in finding my relatives. The immigration CD and the Death (Social Security) Index had little to offer me and Cyndi's book didn't have the information I need but with links from links I did find what I was looking for.
Now for a gamers stand point. Many of us historical gamers will find this program useful for keeping track of our character's family, clans, tribes to give our role playing experience a kick as well as remembering those battles long pasted.
If anything, at least you'll know where you came from.
Rating - Beyond 5+ - Foundation Award
Sierra On-Line, 800/757-7707
In the story over a thousand years have passed since the end of the Starseige. The year is 3940. Hercs are nearly obsolete, being next to impossible to maintain under the current circumstances. Smaller independent tribes are being enveloped by the war between the Blood Eagle and Starwolf tribes, and the way of war has become a much more personal thing. Mano a mano with hand held weapons of great power has taken the main stage in this theatre of war, which is now a way of life taught from birth.
After doing deathmatches in Quake I & II, Unreal and others of their ilk, you might think another first-person, multi-player shooter might be just another. Not so. The folks at Dynamix have taken a huge leap in the genre by going out on a limb to create this particular game. While being a first person shooter, it has added new elements to the canvas that has made tribes unique indeed.
There are a small number of single player missions to get one's feet wet and ready for the battles to come. The real game is the multi-player side. Divided between two sides, the player numbers range from 8 to 32. There are several types of games, including capture the flag, capture and hold, defend and destroy, and find and retrieve. There is of course the deathmatch version, which is a great lot of fun as well.
The multi-player game is much like the battlezone interface, in which you pick from a list of servers, red, yellow, and green, and you want to be the green. There will be information on which map is being used, what type of game, how many players and so forth. It is very easy to get started.
The interface is completely controllable. You can decide which elements are shown. The game is totally enveloping, giving you the options of first or third person perspectives with remarkable detail. Movement is great. You run everywhere and have a jetpack for added levels of excitement. But don't fly too high, once the jets reach their limits heat-wise, you'll be in for a damaging landing.
From one end of the environmental spectrum to the other, you'll find yourself immersed in any number of world types. From icy mountains, to deserts, to inside structures for very cool indoor conflicts, though the majority of battles are outside.
The weapons are very cool, from the ten-kilometer range sniper laser to the up close and personal chain gun and six others in between, all varying in range and power. The armor also ranges in mobility and toughness, giving the warrior a wide variety of possibilities. The thing I like the most though, is the ability to only carry a limited number of weapons. True, it would be cool to pack a pistol, a shotgun, a rifle, a chainsaw, a lighting gun, grenades, a nail gun, etc., etc, all at the same time, but the realism is both bold in design and realistic is play. It makes for a much more challenging setting, just like it would be in reality. You can also take control of the various turrets under your command and defend your base with huge amounts of firepower.
There is also a more realistic way of getting power-ups throughout the tribes worlds by way of the various stations. Armor ammo and various other types of power-ups can be purchased there as well as the rare find of random scattered goods and the booty found at kill sites. Some of the equipment you can acquire repair packs, cameras, remote turrets, sensors, targeting beacons, and other cool tools to help in your campaign.
You can acquire three different vehicles from the appropriate vehicle station, the recon scout, the light personnel carrier, and the heavy personnel carrier. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Jittery vehicles and platforms and such can’t really be helped, it seems to be the nature of the beast, and until faster modem speeds can be achieved they probably should be done differently or not at all.
Overall the game is great for true team players.
This game goes well beyond the normal rating system because of its pioneering nature. It gets the foundation rating so future games will be compared to it.