Independence War II mod Torn Stars: Unstable Space hits beta

Stirrings in the galactic graveyard that is the Independence War II mod scene! Long-thought-dead mod Torn Stars: Unstable Space, has seen a beta release, as of today!

Unstable Space adds a whole host of functions to the minimalist, elegant HUD already present in Independence War II, including email, buying and selling, hiring and firing, factional reputations, and more.

How dead was/is it? Last noise was of an Unstable Alpha, sometime around 2007. Holy cats. And according to the developer,

“I am utterly exhausted. Even writing this post is tough. The beta is far from perfect. It is a sandbox adventure, devoid of any scripted events or story line. It contains a simulated star cluster, along with all the ships, stations, asteroids, planets, stars, factions and battles that go along with that. Expect bugs, and imperfections aplenty. I am not sure how much support I can give fixing them.”

But eh, what the heck. I’m downloading mine right now from And even now, he seems to be doggedly responding to posts. Continue reading


One Hour With Deus Ex: Project 2027

Your first real mission starts you out with quite an arsenal compared to the original.

I wanted that good old UT engine RPG feel so I went to GOG, thinking I’d pick up Deus Ex there, and, well, it’s $10 (their high price point). Aw, hell naw.

So I got off my lazy behind, found my old Deus Ex CD, installed it, and decided to look for mods. I went for Project 2027, since it seems to be an all-new game based on Deus Ex, and it looks like they may have actually finished it.

So far, it definitely has the Deus Ex thing going for it: some expositional play that has you learning the game culture by strolling through an area mostly foreign to you, mysterious AI communing directly with my brains, lengthy conversations with NPCs, clues laying around all over the place, all that great stuff. (I wonder why I have patience for this but didn’t last more than a few hours in Mass Effect. Ah, I know why, I’m old and tired, and Mass Effect is so much work.) Continue reading

Raw Notes for Independence War 2 – Tweaks

The following is a raw dump of notes I made while trying to figure out the optimal settings  for the fantastic classic space sim, Independence War 2. Again, this is quite raw and I may come back later to finalize it.

iw2 config hacks (if any)

 Joystick Deadzones
 - in flux.ini:
 - [fcInputDeviceDI]
     - dead_zone_x = 0.175
     - dead_zone_y = 0.175
     - dead_zone_z = 0.175
     - dead_zone_rx = 0.175
     - dead_zone_ry = 0.175
     - dead_zone_rz = 0.175
 - setting them to 0.1 works pretty well.

Set password for multiplayer in flux.ini:
 - [FcServer]
     - password = "1234"
 - [FCClient]
     - password = "1234"
 - passwords must match, even for the host.

Set resolution and set windowed in flux.ini:
 - [fcGraphicsDeviceD3D]
 - windowed mode can be dynamically resized to any resolution!

from the elite mod, edit flux.ini for more difficulty:
 - [icPlayerPilot]
     - max_rem_range changed from 50000 -> 100000
     - (increases the detection range for your ship? remote control range?)
 - [icShip]
     - critical_damage_scale changed from 0.2 -> 0.5
     - criticals_per_impact changed from 0.2 -> 0.5
     - (increases your ship damage... and the chances of ship damage? hard to say.)
 - [icTacticalCamera]
     - field_of_view changed from 1.2 -> 1.75
     - (fov is increased in the tac cam)
 - [iiSim]
     - collision_damage_factor changed from 3.5 -> 4
     - (damage from collisions increased)

Raw Notes for Independence War 2 – Mods

blue_swirls_crThe following is a raw dump of notes I made while trying to figure out the value of the various mods available for the fantastic classic space sim, Independence War 2. Again, this is quite raw and I may come back later to finalize it. (For now if you want to read the unwrapped text, you’ll have to copy it and paste it into another doc.)

= IW 2 Mods =
my reviews and impressions


= Installing Mods =
     - Generally, simply place in the game root /mods folder. No need to unzip, much of the time. See the mods' readme files for specific requirements.
     - Backup flux.ini if manually editing or if a mod is going to edit it.
     - Mods may mess up savegames, but there's sometimes something in the readme if they do.

= The Short List =
* - tweaking required/optional

The Essential Mods - worth installing even on a first play
     - Multimod - allows multiple mods to be used at once.
     - Free roaming - allows free roaming play after the game is over.
         - in the GOG version, this mod is preinstalled, but will not show on the mods menu. (Check /resource if you don't believe me.)
     - Custom Jafs - give Jafs a bigger cargo ship
         * these settings appear once the mod is selected:
         - [CustomJafs]
             - jafs_cargo_loading_delay = 0-15 (seconds, 0 default)
                 - not sure what base game default is
             - jafs_comments = 0 (none), 1 (cargo comments off), 2 (all on)
                 - game default is 2, mod default is 0
             - jafs_ship = (ship location?) default is a 20 pod Venice freighter
                 - base game has ~8 slots, often necessitating multiple trips

Continue reading

The Graphics Whore Collection – a GOGmix

Like any smart modern company, GOG are very good at getting their customers to do their marketing for them. For example, I created this GOGmix, and am putting on my (lame-o) blog.

GOGmix is an on-site tool that allows you to quickly and easily create a list of games, say a few words about them, and publish the list. The hope, obviously, is to entice members to essentially create ad content for the site, in addition to the standard reviews that show along with each game. The member shares his list with others, hopefully getting them to buy more games. Not a bad idea.

And, so, here’s one of mine: The Graphics Whore Collection – the best-looking games GOG has to offer.

How Big Race USA Made Me a Pinball Believer

I wrote this review for a contest over at for Pro Pinball: Big Race USA:

Big Race USA occupies one of those strange, treasured spots on my shelf: that of the unexpectedly marvelous. Having grown up in the age of Nintendo, it was my tendency to dismiss pinball machines as limited things, rooted to their mechanical nature and unable to provide a lasting challenge, or any real depth. And selling one lousy pinball machine as a whole game? That’s just silly.

However, there are some things that are so well put-together, and lovingly crafted, that they tend to leap over such prejudices. Big Race USA is one such thing. Continue reading

GOG’s December Sale

This is kinda too big to not report: anti-DRM game distributor Good Old Games ( has kick-started their December sale just today, December 14. It touches nearly everything in their catalog, with a possibility of the other tidbits being similarly touched in the upcoming days.

(I also like the idea of a “December Sale” rather than a “Holiday,” “Christmas,” or “Winter” Sale. Politically correct, or simply a businesslike way of saying what it really is?)

My personal picks for best values (all under five bucks, all very good games) are available here:

My “GOGMix” list isn’t the whole story, of course. There are dozens of others available in GOG’s catalog, at up to 50% off. I just picked the cheapest of the cheap, five bucks or less.

Finally, if you’re super cheap anyway, GOG has made the excellent top-down shooter Tyrian 2000 available for free. It was free anyway, but hey, it’s nice to have it in the GOG packaging. This brings the number of free games available on GOG to four… and the number of games I’ve gotten free from GOG to seven. These people love games.

Create a Custom Game Launcher for Master of Orion I and II

Every time I get a new game of any complexity, I usually create a menu for it using the freeware standalone launcher PStart. For me, it’s part of the fun of getting a new game, and it also consolidates a bunch of game resources in a single executable more attractively than the Start menu. Here’s my menu for the newly re-released Master of Orion from GOG:

As you can see, the GOG package includes both Master of Orion I and II, manuals, and the open source DOSBox emulator pre-configured to properly run both games. It’s a fairly complex setup that GOG has taken some decent steps to simplify for the average player. Putting all these resources into a single menu makes it (for me), even simpler. For example, I’ve been playing around with the various DOSBox settings to get the game to run the way I like, so it’s useful to me to have access to the dosboxMOO2.conf file you see in the above menu.

So, just quickly, here is how you put together such a menu system, for just about any game, for free.

Continue reading

Stronghold is cheap, available, and runs great on the EEE 701

Medieval city and siege simulator Stronghold has arrived on DRM-free game service Good Old Games (GOG). It is an old game, and it is pretty good. However, rather than evaluate the game as a game, I’m going to take a look at it in a very specific techincal sense: how well it suits play on a low-level netbook.

Seen here: Asus EEE 701, Stronghold on attached USB drive, and tiny cramp-inducing notebook mouse.

Stronghold is a decent enough RTS with good character, low system requirements, and doesn’t require too much micromanagement, though it won’t change your life or addict you for hours on end (which can be seen as a good thing). It’s six bucks American, and yours forever. I’ve also found that it’s a good game to take on the go, especially if you’re an owner of the diminutive Asus EEE 701 series.   Continue reading