Trent Polack's site for cats, games, game development, and undeniably powerful sociological insight all with a healthy dose of narcissism.
mittens's Articles In PC Gaming
October 13, 2008 by mittens

The Battle of Thermopylae is a battle in ancient history where the Greek forces led by King Leonidas used the pass of Thermopylae to funnel the Persian army, hundreds of thousands of troops deep, led by Xerxes into a small pass where 300 Spartans (and Thespians, Thebans, and Helots for a total of about 2300 troops) were able to inflict a great deal of Persian casualties vastly disproportionate to the number of Greeks over the course of several days. The battle represents a classical example of the strategic use of a geological choke point as a means of gaining a tactical advantage over a number of adversaries. Video games have relied on choke points and other points of interest, such as capturable points and flags, as an integral design mechanic and, as such, have served as the primary influence for a number of popular games and mods over the course of the last decade.

id Software's Quake was a game which started the age of user modifications such as Threewave Capture the Flag (capture the flag! grappling hooks!) and Team Fortress (yes, that Team Fortress). Threewave's level design popularized a very symmetric map design that forced a red and a blue team to compete using speed, power, and intricate knowledge of the maps that matches took place on. Team Fortress popularized the idea of having gamers choose from any number of "classes," all of which had their own benefits and drawbacks, to play a violent capture the flag match across maps designed using the concept of player bases being connected to each other by a very deadly choke point where a good majority of the player-to-player battles took place on. The strangest aspect about both of these mods is not how their game types differed in some basic mechanics but, rather, how each was designed around the same mechanics: capturing another team's flag in a level designed around a series of choke points (the flag room in each base and the middle of the map where the red and blue bases were connected).

September 7, 2008 by mittens

After ending my very first Spore gaming session a few hours after I startedmany hours after I started I sat back and thought about what I just played. Spore isn't an easy game to classify so much as it is five different games to classify all wrapped in an incredibly polished, coherent content creation sandbox. At numerous moments in my session that took me from the very beginning of a new species up through the beginning of the fifth and final Space Stage I sat back and realized that I'm the only gamer in the world who will have taken a blue race that resembles land-sharks called the Asplodians through each stage of the game but, when I was done, I won't be the only gamer who has had the divine pleasure of seeing my little blue carnivores in a game world due to Maxis' endlessly intelligent and well-assembled online distribution of player-created content. If anyone wants to play with my beautiful little blue babies, add "mittense" to your Spore buddy list.

First, to anyone who has yet to play, I'd recommend doing what I did and getting as many friends' spore buddy names as possible before starting and then, optionally, disabling content from anyone outside your list. It's far more enjoyable for me to see a creature in the wild, click it, and see the name of a friend or coworker and silently judge that person based on their creation than it is for me to see a giant walking pair of tits from El337nubPWN3r. And there were a great many times where I was faced with skyscaper-tall "epic" instances of my friends' creations that picked up my baby blue dinosaur-shark hybrid, gnawed on him a bit, and then threw him into the ground and killed him -- such an instance has probably tainted my friendship with that person irrevocably.

The first stage, where you're a tiny little wormthing with chompers swimming about in a primordial ooze, is a surprisingly enjoyable fifteen-to-twenty minute game of lion-and-cat-and-mouse where the lions and mice get bigger with your player-controlled origin of an eventual species. It is during this period that a player can get accustomed to a simplified version of the Creature Creator that will power the stage following this introduction to the game. Going into Spore I assumed this stage would be the game's weak point but that's not even close to true. The cell phase is a rightfully short-lived blast and I'm looking forward to doing it again when I create my next species.

February 17, 2008 by mittens
There have been a startling number of PC-Games-Are-Dying sort of statements coming out lately, the latest of which coming from Cliff Bleszinski of Unreal Tournament fame. This statement no doubt related to the poor sales numbers of Epic's own Unreal Tournament 3 and Gears of War PC. I suppose it's worth noting that Gears of War PC was released almost a year after its 360 version and its relatively high system requirements may or may not be a contributing factor in its sales numbers.



Of ...
November 26, 2006 by mittens
Jump to: The Introduction :: Company of Heroes :: Supreme Commander :: The Conclusion

The Introduction (Or "Why Delays Are the New Thing")
Let's pretend that this article is getting published in a special part of a unique dimension somewhere in the vast reaches of time, space, and the Intarweb that wouldn't place it nearly two months after the last installment of this -- my four-part series dedicated solely to the fruitful kind of happyhappyjoyjoy feelings that the Real-Time Strategy genre c...
August 27, 2006 by mittens
So, I've been a bad, bad bloggertorialist the last few weeks while I finished up my summer terms. I can't say that I've been entirely swamped by classes, presentations, exams, and the like, though. You see, once the latest patch for Titan Quest hit the vast intellectual void known as The Intarweb, my problems with constant and consistent crashing with the game ceased. And with this cease of game-ruining problems, I was allowed to partake in uninterrupted hour upon hour of clicking for phat looty...
July 3, 2006 by mittens
Jump to: A Prologue (Battlefield 2) :: Battlefield 2142 :: The New Standard? :: A Pessimistic Conclusion

Alright this editorial is a sizeable one (Surprise!) which I can easily divide into two halves for the readers who are interested. The first two sections cover Battlefield 2 and its bastard child-spawn Battlefield 2142. These two games serve as a specific platform for me to launch into a lengthy discussion on a "State of the Industry" variety where I'll delve into the recent plague of game...
June 23, 2006 by mittens
Yesterday I ranted on and on about the downside of the new, overhyped concept of games as "episodes" in a larger series rather than self-contained games which receive expansion packs based on both feedback and popularity. Throughout that article I put a blatant focus on Half-Life 2: Episode 1 and SiN: Emergence; in other words, I dealt solely with the first-person shooter genre of episodic gameplay. I believe the principles presented there would apply to any kind of action/adventure game, so for...
June 21, 2006 by mittens
The gaming industry has this thing where it goes through what are commonly referred to as trends. These trends vary year to year, of course, but in the time that can best be described as their own respective hayday they receive some kind of shout out within a game's press release, back cover of a retail box, or an overzealous PR guy that shouts a particular trend from his podium/marketing soapbox. Back in the day, the big trends were all graphical spiffstuffs like the lens flare, bloom/HDR, and ...
July 30, 2005 by mittens
If I were a bit more like the rest of the universe and a bit less like myself, two things would be true: One: I'd begin this article with a definition of the scientific meaning of "half-life," or Two: This article would simply never be written. Unfortunately I can neither start this article with a definition of "half-life" which would lead into the witty observation that, by all means, Half-Life 2 by definition is only half as good as the original Half-Life, nor can I ignore my burning necessity...
June 22, 2005 by mittens
The review will come eventually, but for now I'm just going to rant about a few things regarding the recently released Battlefield 2. Published by everyone's favorite draconian institution Electronic Arts (Remember kids, Challenge Everything, except the publishers) and developed by Dice.

Let me start off by saying one thing: Battlefield 2 is an absolutely incredible game. I might even dare to say that it is the best thing to ever happen to multiplayer gaming, and no, don't even ask me "What a...
June 13, 2004 by mittens
And, to end the night's updates, I'll link to you an editorial I did for FileFront on "What Makes a Successful FPS?" The article mainly covers the basic "traits" a first-person shooter has; but I focus mostly on mod'ing. Now, trademark snippet, and I'll return you to your regularly scheduled programming:Take Half-Life for example: the game was praised for its incredibly immersive single-player campaign, which put a focus on experiencing all the events of the game through one man's eyes (this was...
June 13, 2004 by mittens
FileFront posted a review that I did on the new "hit" game Thief: Deadly Shadows. I really didn't find a whole lot in this game fun... I mean, it was cool sneaking around for about a half-hour, but that's really all the game had to offer. Anyway, read the snippet, check out the full review if you want.I'll say this now, and get it out of the way: Thief 3 retains the stealthy-ness and stealing-ness of its predecessors. From the moment you start a new campaign in the game, you're taught to conceal...
June 12, 2004 by mittens
This week has been a very World War II-inspired week... And it fits, being that last Sunday was the 60th anniversary of D-Day. I'm covering a far lighter aspect of World War II myself. I'm not a big fan of reminiscing over a large amount of people that died (though I'm certainly not against praising their heroics). Anyway, here are my two contributions to the gaming side of World War II over the last week:Call of Duty Strategy Guide - In this little strategy guide, I cover a bunch of general tip...
June 12, 2004 by mittens
FileFront has posted For Gamers Weekly, Vol. 2 today. This is the second issue of my little gaming webzine, which covers everything from game news, to cool scientific stuff, to other nerdy things. This week's issue covers things such as school that went up for sale on eBay, gaming piracy over the last year or so, and a bulldozer-turned-death machine that wrecked havok in a small town in Colorado.
May 15, 2004 by mittens
So, I've been working like fucking crazy on writing a bunch of previews for some of the cooler titles at E3, and ended up writing all of the following previews; my favorite titles are the bolded games. Enjoy!

Guild Wars
Beyond Divinity
Bet On Soldiers
Doom 3 (Xbox)
Call of Duty: United Offensive
World of Warcraft
Dungeon Lords
Cold War
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadows of Chernobyl
Rollercoaster Tycoon 3
The Saga of Ryzom
City of Heroes/Villains
Dungeons and Dragons Online
Full Spectrum Wa...