Skirmish

August 28th, 2011 by Ian

Of all the features I’ve ever been excited about in a forthcoming game, Red Alert’s “Skirmish Mode” ranks number one.  The idea of being able to play multiplayer C&C – of which I was a humongous fan – against the computer… frankly, I dreamt about it.  And when it came around, it didn’t dissapoint either.  Skirmish modes and bots are slightly less important nowadays that it’s so easy to get games online, but back then I could only host a LAN party once a week, and needed something to do the other six days.

Anyway, today I put the Skirmish mode into Frozen Synapse.  We have a big single player with a big story, but of course people are going to want to design their own games against the AI easily.  Here’s the Skirmish Generator screen (click to enbiggen):

Please note that the layout is not final – these are simply programmer art windows.

This allows you to set up pretty much any Extermination match you can think of.  A couple of notes:

– Our AI is infinitely scalable.  For the single player, and by default in the Skirmish Generator, it is set at “Level 2” which tends to get turns calculated in about 5 – 20 seconds – we’ve found that to be an acceptable wait for most people on most computers.  However, if you’re running some kind of super computer from the future or are very patient you can crank it up to 5, which may take a few minutes on modern hardware to run.

– You can choose to have the units deployed near each other (“Situation”) or at opposite ends of the map for a more traditional form.

– There’s a little indicator at the bottom which warns you if you’re setting up a match your computer may have trouble with.  Get many more than 16 units and AI calcs are extremely slow, and very very large maps can have similar problems.  But I wanted to make it available anyway – so we just warn you if we think you’re going to have problems.

So that’s all pretty cool, but I actually wanted to go further and give players control over the map generator.  Here’s the map generator screen:

Map generators tend to be highly eccentric things which only work the exact way the developer has set them up – and of course the “default” settings are what I think gives the best FS experience.  However, my map generator is pretty good and by changing most of those numbers within the limits you’ll get very different but still very playable maps.  The headline settings are:

– “Stop zone side”: Set this low and you’ll get completely dense maps, like the inside of a massive office block.  Set it large and you’ll get something more akin to a village, with lots of open space.

– “Max zone side”: You can get massively bigger rooms by increasing this.

– “Outside wall delete chance”: Crank this up and you’ll have a much more “ruined” feel to the map, with lots of free standing walls and half destroyed buildings.

I hope some players have some fun making different map gens for different experiences.

With this kind of stuff, players will always want to share their settings, so I’ve made it as easy as possible to do that.  Click on “Share These Settings” and you get a piece of text which you can copy and paste to a forum or an email:


If someone wants to try your settings, all they have to do is load up FS and paste the text into a box – easy as that, no messing around with files.

Finally, here’s a map produced by the newly-tuned map generator:

At the top is a “Regenerate” button which allows you to keep generating maps with your given settings until you see something you like.

Let me know what you guys think.

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Some actual benefits

August 18th, 2006 by Paul

Superb blog Reticulating Splines (Blog Name Of the Year Award 1998) posts some more “games are damaging” journo-nonsense for our mockery and puts up some standard, if eloquently-constructed, defences.

Why do people always talk about games improving reaction time?  While that’s true, I think it’s perhaps not nearly as vital as games improving judgement.  Intelligent games require you to develop a skillset to make a series of rapid effective judgements within a set of highly constrained parameters: essentially synthesizing one of mankind’s greatests acheivements (rationality) and excercising it.

Judgement is great, we use it all the time (hopefully), and it makes us do stuff correctly and helps us on the way to competence.  Games allow people to achieve competence in abstract and have fun while they do it, they also allow people to examine the processes by which the attain competence in activities, which is also profoundly useful.

So there.

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Visiting the Village: Episode 108

April 19th, 2017 by James

This week Ian and Paul discuss SNES Classic rumours, Project Scorpio, the Switch, frustum culling and more.

We also have The Film and Television Lounge Area and the UK Steam Top 10.

Read the rest of this entry »

Visiting the Village: Episode 107

January 13th, 2017 by James

On this week’s show we talk about the recent Switch announcements, Elder Scrolls remasters, tutorials, luck and falling out with your publisher.

We also have a special Paul’s Audio Corner segment along with This Week’s Old Releases, the UK Steam Top 11 and your listener questions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Visiting the Village: Episode 106

January 6th, 2017 by James

This week Ian and Paul discuss the top 100 selling games on Steam in 2016, Bethesda’s approach to constructing open worlds and more.

We also have the UK Steam Top 11.

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Visiting the Village: Episode 105

December 22nd, 2016 by James

On this week’s show Ian and Paul discuss Crytek closures, more Switch rumours, eSports agen sbobet gambling, bug bounties and more.

We also have This Week’s Old Releases, the UK Steam Top, uh, 11 and your questions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Visiting the Village: Episode 104

November 22nd, 2016 by James

Visiting the Village: Episode 104

On this show we talk about Nintendo & ‘managed scarcity’, virtual sports, insider trading and more.

We also have the This Week’s Old Releases & the UK Steam Top 10.

Read the rest of this entry »

Visiting the Village: Episode 103

November 15th, 2016 by James

Visiting the Village: Episode 103

This week Ian and Paul discuss PS4 Pro teething issues, Android porting issues, the importance of Day 1 sales, Steam store changes and more.

We also have the UK Steam Top 10.

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Visiting the Village: Episode 102

November 4th, 2016 by James

Visiting the Village: Episode 102

On this show Ian and Paul discuss the Nintendo Switch, Hitman’s elusive targets system, Sony’s OtherOS lawsuit, Twitch Prime and more.

We also see the return of Ian’s Magic Corner along with This Week’s Old Releases and the UK Steam Top 10

Read the rest of this entry »

Visiting the Village: Episode 101

September 28th, 2016 by James

Visiting the Village: Episode 101

On this week’s show Ian and Paul discuss suing your users, franchises, VR and more.

We also have the UK Steam Top 10 and the Television and Film Lounge Area.

Read the rest of this entry »

Visiting the Village: Episode 100

September 16th, 2016 by James

Visiting the Village: Episode 100

This week Ian and Paul talk about: Steam review changes, an ‘art history’ of games, the National Videogame Arcade, League of Legends and more.

We also have a special 2009 retrospective in honour of our 100th (!!!) episode, This Week’s Old Releases, the UK Steam Top 10 and your listener questions.

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Visiting the Village: Episode 99

September 8th, 2016 by James

Visiting the Village: Episode 99

This week on the show Ian and Paul discuss cartridges, ‘trash’ items, the price of old wargames and much more.

We also have the Television and Film Lounge, This Week’s Old Releases and the UK Steam Top 10.

Read the rest of this entry »