Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Bunch of Donkeys

I have not tried Farmville yet on Facebook, and most likely never will.  I have, however, started playing Texas Hold 'Em Poker on there, and while I've come out ahead on every game I've played but the first one (where I was just testing the software), I must say it is some of the worst poker I've ever seen.

When online poker for real money was legal, I played ... a lot.  A lot.  I won money, tournaments.  It was good.  Hell,  I had so many people ask me how to get started that I wrote a book on it. (You can find it toward the top of this blog.)  When the game became quasi-legal, though, sites started shutting out American players.  I stayed away from the online poker then, but after some people sent me chips on Facebook I decided to return to the Green Hell and partake.


I have never seen so many people just play shit hands to see what will happen.  All-in with a 3, 8 off-suit?  Why not?  This happens all the time.  If you've played it on Facebook, you know it's true.  I understand it's play money, but players should be taking the opportunity to hone their skills at the real thing.  I guarantee that if those players would play like that with real money, they would not be enjoying game very long. 

When I run into these players at a table (and it's every table), I play them the way they are supposed to be played.  I wait.  I have the patience of a yogi master.  I wait until I have the right cards and then I wipe them out.  They come right back, and I do it again.  They get confident because I give them small pots, but they don't learn when I take all their money.  And that's the problem with these players: They don't learn.

I'm almost embarrassed for them.  It is actually quite ridiculous.  To face them in real life would be a pleasure, but I would take no honor in it.  I would take their money, because that is the rules of the game we are engaged in, but there would be no honor in defeating an opponent who is so unskilled as to think that is an effective strategy.  To be quite frank, I'd rather face a skilled opponent and lose my money than to face these morons and take all their chips. 

So, if you are interested in playing me, I play under Doug Brunell on Facebook.  I'm not there all the time, but I am there a few times a week.  I'm playing at the lower end tables usually, though I will be playing tournaments soon.  Hope to see you there, but don't be an idiot or you'll soon find yourself refreshing your chips.  

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Little Big Disaster

My daughter loves Little Big Planet for her PSP, and I will admit that I have grown quite fond of the game.  What I've become even more enamored with, however, is it's level design editor.  It is one of the most encompassing and complete one's I've ever encountered in a game, and I decided to use it to create a few levels for my little girl.

Every night she's with me (not nearly often enough), I tell her a bedtime story.  I've been doing this for years, and they all revolve around this central theme of her being a princess.  Mentally, I have her kingdom laid out, her castle laid out and a cast of characters that populate her world.  I decided this would be the best thing to do a few levels on.  Unfortunately, my idea is bigger than my talent.

I was populating the first level with traps and score bubbles when something devastating happened.  Everything fell apart.  I came into the game and gravity had taken control of everything I had not fastened correctly, leaving a mess that looked like Chile after the most recent earthquake.  This was not cool.

On the plus side, though, it showed me what I needed to do to prevent this from happening again.  Months of work were done the proverbial tubes, and if I didn't want to have this become a habit, I had to figure out exactly what I needed to do to prevent such a tragedy.

I think I got it now, though I am slightly hesitant to test it out on play mode just yet.  I have one or two more tweaks, and then I'll be ready.

Creating a video game from bits and pieces has given me all kinds of new respect for game designers.  Granted, this is nowhere near as complicated, but it's difficult enough.  Plus, I only get to design one level at a time.  The makes of something like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City are doing things are a far larger scale with a lot more going on.  Frankly, I don't understand why more game designers don't kill themselves.

Eventually this first level will be done.  I won't post it to share (nor will I post any of the levels based on her bedtime stories) because it is for her and her alone.  The only accolades or complaints I'm seeking shall come from her.  I will succeed only if she enjoys, and fail if she doesn't.  That's the only criteria I care about, and it's the only one I should care about.

The next level, though, is going to blow her mind ... guaranteed.  I'm ready.  I know what I'm doing, and I mapped the whole thing out on paper (something I should have done here).

But if that one falls apart ...