"All war is deception"

Monday, December 12, 2016

First Impressions: Prison Architect

Prison Architect is more of a simulator than a traditional real time strategy, but it is still a ton of fun. You play as someone who owns a for-profit prison. It sounds a bit bleak, but the visuals give a somewhat cheery tone.

Things are confusing at first on what to actually do. The to-do list and CEO letter helps a little but not much. I had to go to a video tutorial on YouTube to actually help me get started on how the workflow actually works.

The game speed changers on the top right are a lot of help stopping, slowing, and speeding things up. Once you get going, it is addictive.

There's a problem with the smaller resolutions. As you can see, there are buttons that overlap on the GUI on the bottom of the screenshot. I like to have the game windowed while I multitask on other things.

If you want to try this game out, and support this blog, get it on Steam for a lower price through this link (Prison Architect).

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

What Never Was: Operation SAND

"Operation SAND is a next-gen RTS focusing on tense, realistic and engaging battles between up to 8 players, split into 2 distinct factions with their own approach to warfare. Concentration is key when battling against human opponents, and with a next-gen approach to interaction and immersion, Operation SAND puts you in the hot seat of humanity’s final battle for resources, domination and survival." (from the Indiegogo campaign)

Friday, November 25, 2016

List: Obscure RTS Games

This is a list of RTS games either no one or very few have ever heard about. Obscure games are those are not on Steam or have lesser than 10,000 reviews or are not on a top list anywhere. Not-That-Obscure Games are those that are obscure by the fact they aren't Command and Conquer or Starcraft or from a well-known RTS developer.

Deep Quest
Submarine Titans (All-Time Favorite)
Harpoon series
Pacific Storm series
King Arthur: Role Playing Wargame series
Kohan series
Globulation series (free)
Glest series (free)
Sun Age: Battle for Elysium (Kinguin Steam; starting at $10, usually $15)
Machines At War series
Warrior Kings series
Warlords Battlecry series
Battle Realms
Order of War
Warzone 2100 (free)
Armies of Exigo
Close Combat series
Universe A War: Earth Assault (First Impressions)
Star Wars Galactic Battleground
Tooth and Tail (upcoming)
Outpost 2: Divided Destiny (free)
Ultimate General series
Infested Planet (Kinguin Steam; starting at $4, usually $15)
Drone Swarm (upcoming)
Battleships Forever (free; Game Jolt)
Joint Task Force
Maelstrom: Battle for Earth Begins (Kinguin Steam; starting at less than $1, usually $6)
War Front: Turning Point
Ground Control series
Dark Reign series
Original War
Scourge of War
Knights of Honor
Star Command Revolution
Highland Warriors
The Guild
Kingdom Under Fire

DEFCON (Kinguin Steam; starting at $2, usually $9)
Anno series
Banished (Kinguin Steam; starting at $5, usually $20)
Dwarf Fortress
Creeper series
AI War series (Kinguin Steam; starting at $3, usually $10)
Majesty series
Impossible Creatures (First Impressions)
The Settlers series
Iron Harvest (upcoming)
Planetary Annihilation (Kinguin Steam; starting at $3, usually $29)
Prison Architect (Kinguin Steam; starting at $4, usually $29)
Rimworld (Kinguin Steam; starting at $23, usually $30)
World In Conflict
Tom Clancy's EndWar (First Impressions)
Art of War: Red Tides (free to play on Steam)
Men of War: Assault Squad series
Total Annihilation series

Paradox games
Eugen System games
Dawn of War series
Company of Heroes series
Sins of a Solar Empire series
Stardock games
Battle for Middle Earth series
Supreme Commander series
Total War series

As usual, any links may be affiliate in nature in use to support the development of this website. Check for sales before buying!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

First Impressions: Impossible Creatures

Impossible Creatures is an RTS about creating your own units out of animal hybrids with a genetic combiner of some sort with what seems to be 1930's technology. I've always wanted to play it ever since I saw a copy at a friend's house about 10 years ago. And now I have!

I blazed through the tutorial. It had the usual camera controls, RTS basics of selecting and attacking and building and harvesting and research, and whatnot. The quick animal combining tutorial was cool. It gave me some constraints of just a few animals to use for the tutorial.

The presence of friendly fire surprised me. My artillery, which were ram-ape hybrids throwing rocks, were accidentally killing off my animal army as we bombard the enemy's structures. The enemy buildings also took longer than usual to destroy, which seems a bit annoying.

Check Impossible Creatures RTS out here from Amazon and support Faction Calculus in the process!

Friday, October 28, 2016

All-Time Favorite: Submarine Titans

Submarine Titans was the first real time strategy game I owned to play, instead of playing at an internet cafe. It has the distinction of being the only RTS played fully underwater.

In the future, an asteroid strike has killed many and put the remaining humans underwater. The humans are divided between the White Sharks and the Black Octopi. An alien force called the Silicons was with the asteroid. The asteroid contains Corium, a highly radioactive element, and all three forces fight over it.

White Sharks (Powerhouse)
Black Octopi (Balanced)
Silicons (Subversive)

The gameplay is complex but slow-paced. You juggle 4 main resources: Oxygen, Metal, Corium, and Gold. Units operate in one of 5 depth levels. Units can also be automated.

The manual! A huge romp of units and technologies and story! I love detailed manuals for games.

Try this piece of classic RTS gaming by buying a copy of Submarine Titans - PC over at Amazon and supporting Faction Calculus in the process.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Game Design: A List and Reimagining of RTS Game Tropes and Features

4X hybrid (Sins of a Solar Empire)
Economic (Offworld Trading)
Horror hybrid (The Inky Darkness)
Tower defense hybrid
Survival (Banished)
Open world (Warzone 2100)
Time travel (Archron)

Linear mission by mission campaign
Branching mission by mission campaign
Conquest mode (Total War, Battle For Middle Earth, Star Wars: Empires At War)
Persistent veteran units (Battle For Middle Earth)
City reclamation (Left Behind: Eternal Forces)
Solar system with spherical planet battlefields (Planetary Annihilation)

Sandbox (Banished, Warzone 2100)

Victory and Defeat
Destroy all units and structures
Wonder victory (Age of Empires)
Diplomatic victory (Civilization)

Victory/Requisition Points (Company of Heroes, Dawn of War)

Fast economy/Slow eonomy
Fast combat/Slow combat
Clear Pausing
Auto Pausing (UFO: Aftermath)
Ability to plan/give orders while paused.

Symmetric Factions
Asymmetric Factions
Sub-Factions (C&C Red Alert 2)
Minor Factions (Emperor: Battle for Dune)
Neutral Factions

Unique units per faction
Faction with mode switching (Universe At War, Act of War: Direct Action)
Faction to choose sub-faction in-game (Warrior Battles)

Individual units
Squads (Dawn of War 2)
Heroes (Warcraft 3)
Heroes that can be added to squads (Dawn of War)
Designed units/Unit designer (Warzone 2100)

Modular units (Battleships Forever)
Transforming units with more training (Battle Realms)
Deployable Units (C&C Red Alert 2)
Cloned units (C&C Red Alert 2)
Unit teleporter (C&C Red Alert 2, Dark Reign)

Infantry more useful than vehicles (Company of Heroes)
Vehicles more useful than infantry (Command and Conquer)

Unit transports
Unit carryalls (C&C Tiberian Sun)
Automated unit carryalls (Dune 2)
Relic units (Age of Empires)

Unit health
Unit (individual) naming
Unit bios (Left Behind: Eternal Forces)
Unit armor and shields
Unit morale
Unit suppression
Unit cover

Medical/Repair units
Engineer units
Constructor units
Resource collection units

Basic infantry
Anti-aircraft/Anti-vehicle (rocket) infantry
Sniper infantry
Flamethrower/Poison/Spread infantry
Mortar/Siege infantry
Commando infantry
Exoskeleton infantry
Animal units
Infantry can circumvent obstacles (Company of Heroes)

Light Vehicles/Cycles/Trikes/Buggies/Humvee
Anti-Tanks/Tank Destroyers
Anti-air platform units
Artillery/Siege units
Vehicles crushing infantry

Fighter aircraft
Bomber aircraft

(Aircraft) Carrier units (C&C Red Alert 2)

Tunneling units (C&C Tiberian Sun)
Teleporting/Chronoshifting (C&C Red Alert 2)
Mercenary/Bounty hunter units that are paid
Suicide units

Unit Selection:
Click or drag a box
Center selection (Halo Wars)
No selection, units are automated

Fully-automated scouting (C&C Generals: Rise of the Reds)

Fog of War
Shroud for already revealed FOW
Fog of War as an enemy (The Inky Darkness)
Non-circular reveal of FOW

Different levels of minimaps (Supreme Commander)

Attack move
Force Attack (Command and Conquer)
Suppression fire (Company of Heroes)
Predetermined angle/arc of attack/fire (Company of Heroes)

Bombard area
Bombing runs (C&C Generals)
Superweapons (Command and Conquer)

Explosive Charges (Command and Conquer)
Grenades (Command and Conquer, Z)
Suicide explosions (C&C Red Alert 2)
Gattling/increasing rate of fire for focus (C&C RA2 Yuri's Revenge, Generals)
Chain/Prism (C&C Red Alert 2)
Infection/Poison (C&C RA2 Yuri's Revenge)
Freezing/Cryo (C&C Red Alert 3)
EMP (C&C Tiberian Sun)
Conversion to faction/Monk (Age of Empires)
Mind Control/Yuri (C&C Red Alert 2)

Infantry able to go pass obstacles (Company of Heroes)
Vehicles crushing infantry

Walls (Dune 2)
Defense structures and towers
Defenses combinable with walls
Garrisons (C&C Red Alert 2)
Bunkers (C&C Generals)
Shielding (Starcraft)
Force shields
Unit cover (Dawn of War)
Unit hiding (The Inky Darkness)
Unit prone

Units with more armor based on viewpoint (Company of Heroes)
Temporary invulnerability/Iron Curtain (C&C Red Alert 2)
Singularity/Attract projectiles (C&C Red Alert 3)
Reflect back (Submarine Titans)

Cloaking (Command and Conquer)
Camouflage skins based on map (C&C Red Alert 2)
Disguises/Spies (C&C Red Alert 2)
Gap Generator (C&C Red Alert 2)

Fake Structures (C&C Red Alert 1)
Tunnels (C&C Generals)
Tunneling units (C&C Tiberian Sun)

Resource collection:
Resource harvesters (Dune 2)
Resource accumulators (Total Annihilation)
Mobile resource accumulators/Hackers (C&C Generals)
Fully-automated resource collection
Supply lines for access to extra, fancy resources (Civilization)
Global storage
Limited storage + Silos (Dune 2)

Resource converters
Marketplace (Age of Empires)
Blessing/refining resources (Warrior Kings)

Farming (Age of Empires)
Hunting animals/fishing/caring livestock (Age of Empires)

Power plants
Area power plants/Pylons (Starcraft)
Power lines (Sun Age)
Powered units (&C RA2 Yuri's Revenge)

Spreading resource/Tiberium crystal (Command and Conquer)
Dangerous/radioactive resource (Command and Conquer)
Contained supply points (C&C Generals, Red Alert 3)

Happiness (Civilization)

Fully-automated and pre-set builds and construction
Building tied to time, not resources (Civilization)

Mobile Construction Vehicle (Command and Conquer)
Drone Construction Vehicle (C&C Re Alert 3)
Crawler (Command and Conquer 4)

Foundation/Concrete (Dune 2, D&C Tiberian Sun)
Foundation Remnant/GLA Foundations (C&C Generals)
Modular building (Halo Wars)
Modular cities (Civilization, Rise of Legends)

Cranes (Command and Conquer Tiberium Wars)
Expansion Outposts

Capturable structures
Fake structures

Mobile Construction Yard (Command and Conquer)
Resource buildings
Power plants
Resource storage/silos
Cranes (Command and Conquer Tiberium Wars)
Expansion Outposts

Barracks for infantry
Factory for vehicles
Airports for aircraft
Dropoff structures for units/reinforcement style (C&C 3 Mideast Crisis 2)
Tech/Research lab

Armory/Arsenal upgrades
Unit cloner (C&C Red Alert 2)
Unit teleporter (C&C Red Alert 2, Dark Reign)

Roads and road building (Settlers)
Neutral structures reconfigured for use (Left Behind: Eternal Forces)

Technology Tree
Technology Web (Civilization: Beyond Earth)
Ages (Age of Empires, Civilization)
Technological Levels

Weather (C&C Tiberian Sun)
Day and night cycle
Territories (Z and Company of Heroes)


Friday, October 21, 2016

Game Design: The Inky Darkness, A Horror Real Time Strategy Game (subject to change)

Jam version, downloadable and playable state

Second recent mockup

Very early game mockup

Download the Jam Version!

As my bio states, I am a game developer of sorts. I often do game jams occasionally, where one will try to make a game in under a prescribed time limit. Not a lot nowadays, but I used to.

So, with Asylum Jam coming up from Game Jolt with the theme of psychological horror or mental issues outside of a context of an asylum (which makes the name ironic), I had a lot of ideas: A game based on writer's block; a game based on the Five Stages of Grief; a 2-D version of Luigi's Mansion; etc.

I recently was playing around with an unfinished RTS engine of mine on Game Maker, and so I thought, maybe I should create a small horror RTS. RTSes are hard to make, but I have done them at least twice for different game jams. Also, I've been fascinated by Lovecraft recently.

Introducing, the Inky Darkness RTS concept!

Tagline: "The Survival Real Time Strategy of Lovecraftian Horror"

Core Pillars:
Comprehensive, nuanced Story
Approachable: No complex UI (less than three clicks), no math, no spreadsheets
Darkness and Psychological Horror
Survival, Not Power Fantasy: limited items and resources
Strategy over tactics: basebuilding, resource management
Choices that matter: story and gameplay
Replayability: multiple endings

You are a commander of a small military base outside a settlement. Whether suddenly or with warning, a dark fog has covered the lands and is increasingly darker and darker. In the fog are terrible, slithering things, and areas covered with the fog are impenetrable. The few that come back from the fog have been reduced to one babbling with insanity... or worse. Escape, get rescued, turn back the fog, or succumb.

Deciding whether Victorian steampunk, World War I, Cold War, or the modern era.

Cold War has the advantages of the Soviet Red Menace atmosphere, and earlier wars such as the Vietnam War as a backdrop for flashbacks.

World War I has gritty trench warfare and gray drab atmosphere. Since chemical warfare was commonplace, the Fog is not out of place.

Modern era can be molded to anything, but has no context to history. Technology such as drones would be available. The war on terror in the desert is possible as a flashback.

Victorian steampunk is just cool, and fits the Lovecraftian sensibilities.

Whatever the time setting maybe, it would probably be somewhere in New England.

Decided finally on Cold War, as to reference the Colder War story, but also the possibility of using flashbacks to Vietnam.

Fantasy and Theme:
The fantasy is a power fantasy of a disciplined military, but taking that power fantasy away to despair and dread of the unknown due to the horrors of war through PTSD.

The theme is bright colors and tone of militarism and patriotism slowly turning into depression with drab colors and darkness.

The game aims to touch on the PTSD aspect in veterans, especially in the end. The Lovecraftian horror is an analog for the PTSD. We are researching on how to sensitively shed light on this.

Fog of War:
The Fog of War is your enemy. Literally. Once it is thick enough, you can shoot at the fog which might grow shadowy tentacles and hold it back until you run out of ammunition.

Strong lights can also hold back the fog. The fog is more of a "liquid" fog than an airy fog that covers everything. Think of Zerg creep or the Creeper World creep combined with a Fog of War.

The thicker the fog gets, the more aggressive the enemies it spawns will be and your range will get smaller.

There will be a day/night system, though a thick fog will make daylight very scarce. Your men, and yourself, will need sleep. And sleep causes nightmares, not only on your men, but on you. Unit speed slower at night.

Units will have limited ammo, limited fuel, limited supplies, and limited men. Units may venture out in your own peril to find supplies and survivors.

Units can hide or take cover behind something to ambush or not. Units are limited to moving in their range of sight, unable to move beyond that circle of visibility.

Units can experience friendly fire and be ordered to kill allies or civilians. This has consequences like court martial.  Also useful for insane units. Sane units ordered to kill allies will refuse.

You and your men are affected by insanity as determined by the thickness of the fog; eldritch horrors each men has encountered; loss of morale, supply and troops; and nightmares at night.

A simple RPG squad unit editing and equipping and upgrading like XCOM, DoW, and Warcraft 3.

Smart unit AI, more like a top down shooter AI. Will also limit the unit head count.

Sort-of fourth wall breaks as evidenced by the insanity and the monsters in-game. Undertale-type 4th wall breaks like game hacking. RUSE or commander effects like invisible or fake armies. A "fun" value that changes the game based on each playthrough. The Ancient horror speaks to the player as it is aware of them/one of them.

Some sort of random generation for characters and other things. Small bios for the characters to relate to.

Enemies include lumbering Lovecraftian zombies/mutants, lots of tentacles, and other cosmic horror. Enemies can corrupt your infantry units and even vehicles.

Insanity might also be an infestation/corruption meter, or separate.

Each unit may have a secret desire or objective. Insanity might cause traitorous actions or a break down. Someone might be a traitor or spy on a purpose.

Sort-of open world sandbox RTS as there is a city nearby for looting and other landmarks.

Flashbacks of previous wars. Maybe the commander has PTSD. Increases the hallucinations. Flashbacks are interactive and playable. Provides practice for player commander for warfare.

Instead of a bird's eye view like a satellite uplink, there will be only surveillance cameras. Or even, the increasing activity destroys the satellite uplink and that player now has to rely on surveillance cameras.

Insanity affecting the landscape. Things will become more out of place as time passes by. Might flash into an alternate dimension.

Commander being attacked in the command station. Structures are not small, but huge enough to warrant firefights inside. Indoor gameplay.

Base-building is standard RTS building, however, structures have interiors aforementioned, sort of like Prison Architect/Rim World with preset building layouts.

Planned rhythm. To shake off predictability, squads may be sent missions to check on completely harmless things. And the harmless things may clue in to a darkness coming, or actually something completely random comes out that is not harmless.

Being attacked by a horror (as opposed to a cultist or zombie) will not result in death, but maybe in Inception type flashback. Monsters also don't seem to be interested in attacking you, at first.

Locations may be randomized. There may be illusory locations.

An Undertale/Risk Legacy sort of permadeath or permanent game changes; the game remembering past actions.

Commander has special abilities in his office, such as setting AI for guarding, shooting, etc.

Combat is precise and slowed. Enemies are like puzzles to be solved rather than simply throwing units at them. There may be a paused strategy mode. You can target individual parts of a unit when paused (head, torso, legs).

Units/characters may have cartoon/comic balloons to dialogue with you to show lore or comments or wallbreaks. "Converse/Talk" action can be enabled to talk to horrors instead of shooting at them.

Limited time span/countdown (a week, maybe). Decide to explore or bolster defenses.

Units do not die enmasse until the end (or another trigger). If a unit dies, the monster attack halts.

Horrors will patrol. Some will not cause alarm to others. Others will cause a swarm.

The RTS can be paused. When under attack, it can automatically pause for more combat orders. However, once playing again, you cannot pause to give orders until combat ends again.

Claustrohobia through darkness.
Units saying random stuff in a surreal type dreamlike state or paranoia, talking over each other (as if they have their own world/reality).

Jam/Barebones Version:
No story/little story
Hostile Fog of War
Just the military base under attack, no other locations
Insanity mechanic
Waves of enemies

Trope Breakers:
Structures are not instantly built.
Units cannot be trained out of thin air, but must be recruited or taken from reinforcements.
Units are scaled.
Units must be healed over time and some wounds are permanent.
Research becomes "downloading files".
Upgrades are not instant and must be equipped.
No arbitrary unit head counts, but is pretty hard to recruit units, anyways

1. Military Base/Outpost
A. Command: Contains office, research, intelligence, surveillance cameras
B. Barracks: Contains bunks, clinic, canteen, armory, sanitarium
C. Radar/Uplink: Needed for Nuclear Retaliation (needs to be built)
D. Guard Towers: Contains machine guns, spotlights
E. Supply Docks
F. Generator: Powers Uplink and lights
G. Airstrip/Helipad: Needed for Escape/Rescued (needs to be built)
H. Walls/Fences
I. Bunkers
J. Warehouse: Contains supplies
K. Hangar: Contains tanks, vehicles, aircraft (needs to be built)

2. City/Town
A. Hospital
B. Library: needs to be investigated
C. Market
D. Apartments
E. Square
F. School

3. Forest
A. Cabin
B. National Park Service
C. Power Plant

4. River/Bay: fish people
A. Piers
B. Docks
C. Factory
D. Bridge: Heartbeat bridge

5. Suburbs
A. Mansion
B. Houses

6. Mountain/Hill Evott
A. Summer camp
B. Mine: contains a secret, Undertale references

7. Country
A. Farm
B. Country Church: protected by holiness, required for Hopes and Dreams
C. Cemetery: undead, weeping angels

8. Supermarket/Mall
A. Warehouse
B. Mall

9. Portal/Hive: a source of the infestation, may lead to alternate dimension

10. Alternate
A. Alternate Dimension
B. Dreams/Nightmares
C. Flashbacks: Vietnam, WWI

Commander/Colonel (you)
Officers: Captain, Sergeants

Hide (auto)
Cover (auto)
Shoot (toggle)
Crawl/Crouch/Prone (toggle)
Silencer (close range stealth kill)
Snipe (long range)
Grenade (area of effect)
Flashbang (blinds)
Trap/Mine (anti-patrol)
Distract (look away)
Bait (attract to a spot)
Lure/Whistle (attract to own location)
Artillery (long range area of effect)
Remote/Timed Demolitions (area of effect)
First Aid Kit (healing)
Setup Radio (long range effects)
Setup Turret (machine gun)
Setup Light (lamp, spotlight)

No climbing or other floors?

Roaches: insects driven to frenzy by the infestation
Bats: bats driven to frenzy by the infestation
Zombies: Mostly townspeople reanimated
Silhoutte: Dead shadow soldiers back to life
Eyes: stares from fog
Grell: hallucination, jockey may control minds
Tentacles: attacks from below, smoker, may pull from afar
(name pending): a tank
(name pending): a charger
(name pending): a jockey
(name pending): a boomer
(name pending): a hunter
(name pending): a area effect spitter
Yellowking: Vietnam flashback monster
Batwitch: Vietnam flashback monster, made up of bats
Ancient: Boss
(name pending): Dr. Gaster-like monster

Ancient Boss:
Resurrects all people you've killed or sacrificed.
Can manipulate the menus and player controls and cursors.
Can shut off the game.
Talks to you, the player, directly.

Supplies/Material: Used to build or repair things.
Fuel: Used to power things like radars and lights.

Outpost/Base consumed
World consumed
You consumed: Colder War ending
Surviving and Protected
Rescued and Escaped
Nuclear Retaliation
Disaster averted: Requires confrontation of the Evil One
Hopes and Dreams: A Machenesque ending

Story mode
Endless/Sandbox mode
Lone Survivor mode

Risks and Challenges:
The trick is how to make a strategy game scary. The survival part should theoretically lend to that idea.

There's also feature creep as a horror game requires a lot of atmosphere, and RTS has a lot of moving parts. The Jam version will set the core game.

Features to possibly cut:
Secret objectives

Call of Cthulu: Wasted Land
Fear Equation, Deadnauts, Zafehouse: Diaries
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Darkest Dungeon
The Consuming Shadow
Creeper World series
Prison Architect/Rim World
Don't Starve
Escape from Aliens from Outer Space! (board game)
Blood Roofs
The Last Door
This War of Mine
Fallen London/Sunless Sea
Home/Uncanny Valley
FTL: Faster Than Light
Spec Ops: The Line
The Darkness II
UFO: Aftermath
Alien: Isolation
Other games which I do not remember the name of.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Awesome Mods: Starcrafts - Starcraft 2

I... love it!


I only have the free version of Starcraft 2. But the free version supports mods, so will try this out soon.

First Impressions: The Lord Of The Rings: Battle For Middle-Earth

Where can you play through the entire storyline of the Lord of the Rings as the Fellowship... and then in the perspective of the bad guys? And not only the main characters and heroes, but also commanding whole armies in the process?

Battle For Middle-Earth! That's what.

I haven't read any of the books of the series except The Silmarillion, but watched the movies. While I'm not a die hard fan except the book I read, I enjoyed the story.

I first played with the Battle School, the tutorial for the game. They are all video tutorials, detailing the main concepts.

I then started the campaign for the Good guys. It's literally called the "Good campaign". No moral ambiguity, here, which I like.  The game seems to follow the movie from when the Fellowship is first forged.

The first mission is to lead the Fellowship heroes into the mines of Moria. You encounter goblins and cave trolls along the way. It seems to be a buffer missions to upgrade your heroes.

Each hero unit has skills and abilities, which leads to some micromanagement. I used mostly Gandalf's skills as he is a wizard after all. Aragorn's healing ability also proved useful.

The mission is littered with cinematics and also triggered scripted voice acting, all from the movies. Some of it was not timed right, especially if you wanted to backtrack.

The minimap is hand drawn, like pencil. That was the most original rendering of a minimap I have ever seen.

One thing I didn't like was when using hero skills and abilities, one had to left click on the ability, and then right click. I am very used to left clicking for any button skills. Oh well.

Leading them through to the end leads to the fight with the Balrog. And in this case, as the Fellowship flees, you play as Gandalf to finish the Balrog, which is not shown in the movies. Pretty cool, huh?

And thus is my first impression of the game. I will add more along as I play more.

If you want to play it and support Faction Calculus, check out The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth in Amazon!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

First Impressions: Universe At War: Earth Assault

I heard Petroglyph, successor to Westwood Studios who created the Command and Conquer series, made this. And I love love love the backstory. "Normal", stereotypical UFO aliens? Check. Robot aliens? Check. Ancient aliens? Check. Not saying it was aliens, but it was aliens. And you can play as the humans, too, in the beginning missions.

Only recently have I been able to find a copy for my enjoyment.

I first played as the Humans in the prologue missions. Cue the "Washington DC is being destroyed by aliens" trope. Then to find out every city is being destroyed by aliens, not just the important ones. Awe-some!

Want to try it out and support Faction Calculus in the process? Check out Universe At War: Earth Assault - PC in Amazon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

All-Time Favorite: C&C Red Alert 2 and Yuri's Revenge

Oh, where do I start? This game holds so much memory and nostalgia.

I first encountered Red Alert 2 when I was around 7 or 8 in an internet cafe. Or rather Yuri's Revenge, I think, was my first introduction to the game. It was also my first introduction to the Command and Conquer universe.

Red Alert 2 is the sequel to Red Alert (obviously). The game is set in an alternate history where Hitler was killed by a time traveling Einstein. After the Soviets were rebuffed by the Allies in the first game, the Soviets took vengeance by invading the United States led by a Ronald Reagan analogue, President Dugan.

The Soviets used their psychic adviser Yuri to mind control the counterattack nuclear missile silos and crippling the United States. There, you enter as an upstart American commander of the American and soon Allied forces.

Funny instance, the second time I loaded up the game, I had completely forgotten that right-click did not move the units. The game used left click to select and move. I kept deselecting units for almost a couple hours.

When we moved to the States, I managed to score a complete CD set of Red Alert 2 with Yuri's Revenge.

I rebought the game again with Command and Conquer: The First Decade and again with EA Origin's Command and Conquer: Ultimate Collection. It is probably the one of the fewest games I have ever rebought in my life.

With the First Decade, I created many mods. The game has awesome mod support. It was also the game I modeled primarily after for the real time strategy game I was designing and developing called Ground Zero CLASH.

It's probably my all-time favorite game of all time, and not just real time strategy. Undertale comes close, though.

Get the Command and Conquer The Ultimate Collection [Online Game Code] here. It's a lot cheaper than just buying Red Alert 2 and Yuri's Revenge separately. By doing so, you support Faction Calculus. If you don't like us... just google it or something.

Yuri (YR Expansion)

Mental Omega

Sunday, October 9, 2016

First Impressions: Company of Heroes

I bought the Humble Bundle for the 10th anniversary of Company of Heroes. It cost me about $10. I don't usually do World War 2 games unless there's an alternate history component, like Red Alert or the Cuban Missile Crisis game. However, I couldn't pass it up knowing it is critically acclaimed.

I started the tutorial and it was standard fare. It had keyboard controls to replace the mouse wheel for laptop users like me.

At first, I thought the factions would play the same, just different units. Not at all! The British play differently with squads to American engineer and platoons and the German Panzer Elite vehicles are very important to their function.

The gameplay is reminiscent of Dawn of War, particularly the second one. 

I have the complete collection of Company of Heroes, so I will do some campaigns.

If you want to try it out and support Faction Calculus while at it, here are the games:

First Impressions: Perimeter: Emperor's Testament

I have heard about this game for awhile now. It's supposedly rare and a runaway cult classic.

A bit disappointed when trying it out for the first time. There was no obvious tutorial. I started with a base and many small infantry units.

Perimeter uses a "perimenter" gameplay mechanic where one needs to connect the power source to structures, and the power source is usually the main structure headquarters where you buy units.

I was wiped out by a squad of alien-looking units from the environment after I sent out all my weak infantry units after it.

I did find a manual online on the Steam page, however. I will retry again and update this blog entry whenever I get a better grasp of the game. The manual speaks about how terraforming is important to the game. That's probably what I was missing.

Do you want to try out the game and support Faction Calculus in the process? Check it out Perimeter: Emperor's Testament - PC in Amazon!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

First Impressions: Dawn of War II Retribution

I have played DoW I and II, but haven't loaded up my copy of Retribution yet. I am so glad for the additional factions included as DLC: Imperial Guard, Chaos Marine, Tyranid, Ork, and Eldar.

I started with the Eldar on Normal Mode and played through the first mission. It looks pretty cool. Individual Eldar hero units seem more overpowered than normal Spae Marine ones, or I could just be confusing the long ago plays.

The Ork boss was easier to handle this time, but it was because of the couple Shuriken units I got and distanced them away.

Also, the Orks were Pirate-themed. Which I found campy. I also was wishing for more Space Marine variants, but maybe that's just for multiplayer mode? I haven't checked the game enough to see an actual skirmish mode on there.

Usually, when starting to play RTSes, I either start with the Tutorial, Campaign, or Skirmish to test out all the unit combinations. Since I didn't find a skirmish mode, if it is in there, I did not experiment with unit combinations.

I still miss the base building of the first here, but that was a bit alleviated by the capturable Webways in the game. The Webways allowed units to reinforce my squads with Guardian units and Shurikens.

I did enjoy the first mission, but it wasn't too compelling for me to continue to the next one without a break.

My recent purchase of Company of Honor reminds me a lot of the gameplay of the Dawn of War 2: the focus on squads and cover system. I will cover Company of Honor games in a later post.

Do you want to try out the game? Support Faction Calculus by buying Warhammer 40K Dawn of War II Retribution - PC on Amazon!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Origin of the Name "Faction Calculus"

The term "Faction Calculus" is the phenomenon when a faction takes on a specific role in light of other factions. Differences are heightened when contrasted to each other.

Faction Calculus entry in TV Tropes

To summarize, when there are:
Two factions: Usually splits between a powerhouse faction and a subversive faction.
Three factions: A balanced faction joins the powerhouse and subversive.
Four factions: The balanced splits into balanced and glass cannon factions.
Five factions: A horde factions splits from the subversive faction.
Six or more factions: Faction calculus fails and factions are categorized by another system entirely.

Factions are probably my favorite "feature" of real-time strategy games, and hence why this blog is named after it.

I liked Calculus when I took it in school, but I'm probably not the best at it. That said, I love to analyze.

With this blog, I aim to cover as many real-time strategy games as I can and play them.