Can You Castle Out Of Check? — And Some Basic Strategy About Making Trades



You cannot castle through check.  You cannot castle into check.  And you cannot castle out of check.

Since that makes for a short blog post, I’ll also say– The opening is when knights are most valuable.  This is because they do well when the board is cluttered, but it takes them a long time to cross an empty board.  Rooks and the queen become more useful as pieces are cleared off the board.  Bishops are useful throughout the game.  Therefore to trade in the opening your knight for the opponent’s bishop is a pretty good trade!

That’s very basic advice, but hey — this is a short little blog post.

Want to see something weird that has nothing to do with castling out of check? (more…)

Published in: on July 13, 2012 at 9:28 am  Comments (1)  
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Weird Hamlet — retranslated from the French

Back when I was researching Hamlet for something I would later write up in Hypnotized by Hamlet, I came across reference to a French translation.

The translation of Shakespeare’s play was written by Dumas — yes, the same one who wrote Count of Monte Christo and Three Musketeers.  Since Count is a classic revenge story, I figured it would be worth a read.

But I couldn’t find it in English.  Even the miracle of inter-library loan couldn’t help me.  Finally, I had the good fortune to cross e-paths with Frank Morlock, who at that time had a nearly-completed translation.  He has since put the completed Hamlet, by Alexandre Dumas online.

If you’re curious, the Conrad he mentions is indeed me:  I nagged him to complete the project.  I was surprised to see the mention.  It was a selfish nag.

Dumas’s Hamlet is interesting in comparison to Shakespeare’s and Bellefrost’s, because both Dumas and Bellefrost wrote comparatively normal stories, whereas Shakespeare’s is pretty weird.  If you’re interested in identifying those weirdnesses, one tip is to compare with a non-weird text.

…as you can see, I don’t much go for proper academic terminology.

(I kind of want to read the Klingon Hamlet, but not badly enough to learn Klingon.  I admit I did have a copy briefly, but not knowing the language…

(If only some Klingon bilingual would take a tip from Mr. Morlock and translate the Klingon Hamlet in English!)

Published in: on May 12, 2012 at 2:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Play _Unicorn Story_ online!

I wrote a little online text game available for you to play online  (written with Ramus)!

The blurb goes–

Unicorn Story

A lyrical piece by Conrad Cook, hosted here for your pleasure. Not only it looks gorgeous, it also uses the medium in a fairly intriguing way.”

Many thanks, Felix, for the kind words and for supplying a web space for the game! This game is also mirrored, so you can play it here. Ralphmerridew hosts the mirror — thanks too!

(I’m reposting this from a comment in the Ramus announcement after it came to my attention it was effectively hiding there.)

Published in: on March 23, 2012 at 8:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Introducing Ramus! — a very nice dynamic document creator

Ramus is a nifty little document creator, created by Felix Pleșoianu, that allows you to start with a paragraph-long document and keep adding text, almost as if it were being written in front of you.  It’s designed to be an Undum lite (or a Vorple lite):  fewer features, but much easier.

And Ramus is very easy.

There are three things you need to make a basic, non-state-tracking document, like a CYOA, and those are laid out in this simple template file:

A more complex demo can be found at the Ramus website.

Many thanks, Felix!

Published in: on March 19, 2012 at 10:55 pm  Comments (9)  
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Alternate Universe Friends

A peculiar Ren’Py fanfic now available through the website, this probably-copyright-infringing game is liberally illustrated with photoshopped screen captures from the TV show. It’s not entirely clear whether the images are stills, or overlays assembled on the fly.  It’s a Friends episode in a universe where Hitler won World War II.

The narrative frame is introduced from (presumably) the real-world Friends universe, with the crowd all gathered around speculating on what it would be like if the Axis had won the war. They chatter for just a few seconds (Ross: “I’d be half Japanese.”) before the game begins.

So you’re immediately waiting for the punchline, and this (for me) was a major part of the game experience. There’s no one player character. Instead, you’re given little choices, about what the characters say, and a few choice-points that seem to influence the plot. I didn’t play it more than once — I was never into the show, and the game is enough like the show for me.

The minor choices in dialog set up different retorts from the other characters, which are bland-witty in much the way I recall from the TV program. A great deal of the discussion is about a dress of Monica’s, which looks good but is not appropriate for any particular occasion, so the other characters all chime in with ultimately unhelpful ideas about where she can wear it. There’s a sub-plot about Joey’s job, which is a minor acting gig but which may lead to something better.

So what about Nazi New York? (more…)

Published in: on March 19, 2012 at 10:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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(meta-review) I don’t play hentai games, but…

I don’t play hentai games.  That’s not a rule of mine.  I would if I wanted to.  I even hopefully, but half-heartedly, checked a few out once.  Just for some reason they don’t do it for me.

However, this short review of an adult “video novel” video game, I guess written in Ren’Py, struck me as kind of interesting:

Played the game and I have to say I liked it was pretty good for a non-professional title, good enough for me to personally go through the game and get all the endings to see the harem ending and the alien invasion ending, keep up the good work and would like to see another…

The author seems to have removed the game from circulation, so there’s no telling if my curiosity would have gotten the better of me.

I don’t think my uninterest in adult VN games stems from prudery.  Once I started to write a script for a porn film, based on the theory that the form does not fully explore the options available to it.  The opening scene went like this: (more…)

Published in: on February 12, 2012 at 7:42 pm  Comments (3)  
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Bullshit Review of _Find the Dog_

Sorry for the bullshit of this bullshit review — a real review would be too difficult to write.

This is a fine game — parser works, pictures work — text does its job — the main problem being you can’t download it.  Which is fine if you have a decent internet connection, but my tubes are slow.

The premise is vaguely amusing.  You play a 50 year old neighborhood woman who makes a bundle ($150 a week) to dog-sit a woman’s dog at her apartment.  The interaction with the 50 year old neighborhood bachelors at McDonalds in the morning is frighteningly on.  I suspect the author lurked and took notes, or perhaps is a 50 year old woman himself.

The complication hits immediately:  The dog dies.  This is almost immediate, but after you’ve played a few rounds and imagine this is shaping up to be some kind of Dog Sim, complete with minigames like Clean Up After Rover (did you bring a plastic bag?)

It’s been established that this dog is your bread and butter — “Are you SERIOUS?  $150 a week to WALK A DOG?” the bachelors exclaim — and you basically have no other income except for a woefully inadequate social security check that on inspection causes your player character to mentally review your older friends who have sold off their belongings, or taken in strange boarders, or so forth, to eek by on theirs.

Therefore, when the dog dies — or more accurately, is discovered dead in the apartment — the correct response is adequately indicated by context, but by no means obvious.  You must [spoiler] (more…)

Published in: on January 29, 2012 at 7:47 pm  Comments (5)  
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IFC10 review – Flight of the Hummingbird

This is a review of a Comp game, and as often happens in reviews of Comp games, I will be Saying Things about this game.  There’s one thing we need before we begin…

There.  I’ll get a new one soon.

Flight of the Hummingbird, by Michael Martin, is a fine game.  It’s entertaining, fast-paced, and very well-polished.  I gather there are a few alternate solutions.  I have only minor criticisms of this game.

I suggest, if you want to play a fun two-hour text game, you make  it a point to play this one before reading further. (more…)

Published in: on October 22, 2010 at 8:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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IFC10 review – Gigantomania

This is a review of a Comp game, and as often happens in reviews of Comp games, I will be Saying Things about this game.  THE PICTURE is coming up…


Gigantomania, by Michelle Tirto and Mike Ciul, is a beginner game, with some faults.  If you need a hint or don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing, I’ll post the main goal of each section (as I understand them) in a moment.

The title is not a reference to Stalin, by the way.  In order to create an economy of scale, there were plans to combine villages together into huge farming combines.  These schemes were later called ‘Gigantomania.’


Published in: on October 21, 2010 at 1:08 pm  Comments (3)  
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Let’s Raid Wikipedia!

Who else needs a break from IFComp 2010 awesomeness?

The sad fact is that the Wikipedia article on Plot is abysmally skeletal.  Like an underfed chicken.  And, let’s face it, plot is a super-interesting topic!

A couple times, over the years, I’ve tried to add things to this entry, only to have some “editor” come along, compare the differences and say to himself (apparently):

What is this?  Someone has altered the meaning of this paragraph.  Revert!

–Generally without doing any basic research to see if the new meaning is more factually correct.

BUT, this time I think I’m starting to make some headway.  I’ve got the Latest Reverter saying, “Ok, ok, fine, just go away–”  (Didn’t you love to hear that from your parents?  It was basically carte blanche:   go ahead and paint the cat a better color, just do it quietly!)

You know what I think we need?

A history of plot.  Currently they just have Freytag’s pyramid, which is all anyone says about Freytag and isn’t even why he’s cool.  We can put in some Aristotle to give Freytag some context, work in some Agusto Boal, maybe, for an alternative point of view, and then get modern–

I dunno, you guys tell me:  Who talks about the function of plot in modern video games?  In CYOAs? 

I mean, this is Wikipedia.  We really should have something more than Freytag’s Pyramid.

C’mon, guys.  Pitch in.

Published in: on October 16, 2010 at 3:48 pm  Comments (3)  
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