Fixing the Weapon Break Mechanic in BOTW/TOTK

The most often criticized feature in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and its sequel, Tears of the Kingdom, is the weapon breaking system.

I like to put on my game designer hat and come up with ways to improve games, and this is a subject that I’ve thought about a considerable amount off and on since I played through BOTW, and am thinking about more now that I’m playing through TOTK.

So here’s my suggested solution.

I actually like the possibility for weapons to break. I think it does make combat more interesting, and I support Nintendo’s reasoning that the feature gives the player reason to use other weapons than the current best damage weapon in their arsenal, which results in the player experiencing a wider variety of combat mechanics that result from the different properties and behaviors of the different classes of weapons found in the game.

So we’re not ditching the system, we’re going to tune it.

First, let’s recognize that weapon quality should come into play, as it does, but durability should increase much more quickly as weapon quality goes up.

So, at the start of the game, we have what I’ll call “found object” weapons, like the tree branch. These should rightly be very easy to break, in just a few solid hits, as they are.

The next class of weapon above that should be “improvised object”. These are tools, such as brooms, shovels, pitch forks, and so on, which are capable of being used as weapons, and are designed to be durable, but are not intended to be weapons. These should break more easily than a designed weapon, because using them for combat is putting stresses on them that they were not designed for.

The next class of weapon above “improvised” is “crude”. Crude weapons have a primitive look to them, and are built by crude or less skilled means, and won’t hold up as well as a better made weapon. Crude weapons are made of roughly hewn wood, bone, and stone, and not refined metals. Crude weapons can be repaired more frequently, and can be repaired in the field at places similar to the cooking pots found throughout the world. This amounts to “duct tape” level reinforcement of the weapon’s shaft, or the attachment of the weapon’s head to the shaft, for things like stone hammers and stone axes

The next class is “Standard”. Standard weapons are in good condition and should last a long time if properly treated and cared for, but are subject to breaking when abused, neglected, or subjected to abnormal rough treatment. In the game, a Standard quality weapon would be given no “modifier” adjective, eg there would be a “Sword” rather than a “Standard Sword” or “Traveler’s Sword” rather than “Standard Traveler’s Sword.”

Above that is “Quality”. Quality weapons are a bit more durable, and last a bit longer. They are made better, and from better materials. They are rare, and are found only in places like Shrines or stored in chests found in places where they would be well shielded against the elements, such as inside of a cave or building, not out in the open or under water. Quality weapons are often used by enemies of higher status, and can be won through combat against them.

Above that, is “Magical”. Magical weapons are the ones that have special powers, like elemental properties, or the Master Sword. These weapons do not ordinarily break through wearing out, but may break when subjected to extreme damage or misuse.

In BOTW, the Master sword cannot break, but gets “used up” after a certain number of uses and has to recharge. I don’t especially like that solution, as it feels artificial, but we’ll come back to that. I think the Master Sword should be a special case weapon, maybe a level above “magical”. We might call it “Legendary”.

Another factor in durability should be its condition.

The bottom condition is “decrepit”. These are the weapons Link may find laying out in the open environment, which have been neglected and subject to weathering, rust, or rot. These will do in a pinch, but may be at their end of life. Decrepit weapons can be upgraded through repair, one time, taking them to a blacksmith shop or weapon shop in one of the towns or stables (which don’t exist in the game as they are, but could be added with a reasonably small effort) and it should cost materials and rupees to get them fixed. They cannot be restored to anything above Standard quality, regardless of how they started out in life. Fixing is not a skill that Link should devote time into learning, so he relies on skilled tradesmen and women to do this work for him, and he definitely can’t do it in the field. Decrepit bladed weapons do less damage and are weaker against armor than

Above “Decrepit” there is “Worn”. A worn weapon has been used, but is otherwise in good condition and functions as it should. Above “Worn” is “New”. There’s nothing better than “new”. A weapon in New condition remains in New condition until it is used, and then slowly degrades to Worn, and if not cared for, will degrade further to Decrepit and then eventually break in action.

You can check your inventory to see the current condition of the items you have, and the item in hand will visually give an appearance of its condition as well, to make it obvious when it is no longer New, and when it transitions from Worn to Decrepit. The “gonna break any time now” pulsating glow from the game-as-it-is can remain in place, but only happens with weapons in the Decrepit state on their last legs.

Using a weapon will degrade its condition from its current state down to Worn, then Decrepit, and then eventually it will break. There’s a risk of breaking at each condition level, but the risk increases dramatically as the weapon becomes increasingly worn out. As the weapon goes through these stages, it gradually diminishes in the damage it deals, becoming increasingly ineffective toward the end.

Weapons of Standard and Quality quality can be repaired a finite number of times at the places where that service is available, and if maintained (brought in for service before they become Decrepit) they can be restored to their full original quality level.

Weapons of different types will progress through their wear states differently. Bladed weapons will become dull through use, and will do less damage as a result. High condition, high quality bladed weapons will do much more damage than a crude weapon or a weapon in poor condition. Likewise with stabbing weapons such as spears, as their tips become rounded with use, they will likewise do less damage. Blunt weapons, on the other hand, remain just as effective regardless of their condition, which is an advantage that they have over sharp weapons. Offsetting this advantage, blunt weapons are heavier, making them slower to swing, slower to recover, and slower to windup when using a long-press attack move.

Weapon damage doesn’t have to happen every time the weapon is used. When a weapon is used in the intended way, weapon damage should be minimal to nonexistent, with perhaps a small change of something more happening due to an unlucky strike. But when a weapon is misused, or strikes a durable surface like armor, a shield, stone, or wood, some damage may occur.

So if you swing your weapon and connect to do damage, if the enemy is a normal flesh and blood creature, the damage done to a weapon will range from 0-1 durability points, with 1 being a rare unlucky hit.

When you parry with your weapon, or when your attack is parried by the enemy, or when your weapon strikes the enemy’s shield or an armored enemy, or when the enemy is made of something more durable than flesh and blood, such as skeletal enemies, stone enemies, elementally infused enemies, hitting them does more damage to your weapon. Parrying with your weapon does less damage than when your attack is parried by the enemy.

Depending on the material the weapon strikes, and the type of weapon, it will take more or less damage. Hitting rocks with a hammer, pick, or drill will use up very little of that weapon’s durability, while hitting stone with a bladed weapon or spear will do significant damage very quickly.

Hitting wood with an axe blade will cause only slight to no wear, but hitting wood with a blunt weapon or a bladed sword will do more damage to those types of weapons. So misusing weapons, abusing them to hit the wrong type of material than they were designed to be effective against, will cause them to wear out and become damaged or ruined very quickly, but using the right type of weapon for the material being struck will result in slow, gradual wear.

This is already implemented to a degree in BOTW, where weapons like hammers and axes do get a durability attrition bonus when used to chop wood or mine ore, but my proposed solution goes further, and the wear to properly used tools and weapons is reduced, particularly against softer enemies, while abused weapons take greater damage, and most weapon wear happens when the weapon hits a shield, armor, is parried, or is used to parry, or when the player hits a rock or tree in the midst of combat.

This means that your weapon could last a long time, if you know how to use it properly, and are skillful with your aim and don’t make ineffective attacks that hit the shield, or if you only mine ores with hammers and only chop wood with axes.

To adjust the adjacent systems in the game to accommodate for increased weapon life and the ability to repair weapons, weapon drops would be less frequent, and enemy’s weapons would tend to be in worse condition, reflecting that it is in all likelihood a used weapon, as well as any additional wear done to it while wielded by the enemy. It also means that an enemy’s weapon might break in their grasp, which I think would potentially make combat a little more interesting. Special weapons of Quality, and Magical weapons, would be correspondingly higher in rarity, reflecting their increased durability and capability of being repaired. We might also do with fewer inventory slots for carrying weapons. This would have a further advantage of being a bit more reasonable and realistic. When you consider how many things Link is able to carry in his inventory slots, it’s a bit ridiculous. Being forced to choose between 2-3 weapons at most, one of them being a bow, and a shield, would be an interesting constraint and force the player to choose, sometimes opting for a weaker weapon that has a useful ability or property, and storing their other “keeper” weapons back at Link’s House in Hateno Village.

It would definitely be interesting to see how the game feels with these changes. If a weapon broke only once every few fights, it would go a long way toward making me more willing to engage in battle. And by “every few fights” I mean every few encounters, not every few enemies. So if I’m fighting 4-5 bokoblins and a moblin, that is what I would consider a single “fight”. Weapons breaking every 3-4 encounters of that size, I think would be much less annoying, and feel more reasonable, while still providing the types of incentives that Nintendo’s designers were going for, to encourage the use of different types of weapons, rather than reliance on the single best weapon that you’ve found so far. I think I would enjoy combat much more if weapon breaking wasn’t something that happened in nearly every fight, especially with the better weapons you can find later in the game. When the weapons break so frequently, it makes me want to avoid combat in order to preserve my better weapons for use in fights that I want to have.

It’s Zelda Day

Tears of the Kingdom officially releases

It’s May 12, Zelda Day. The official release date for the latest Legend of Zelda title from Nintendo, Tears of the Kingdom. The long awaited sequel to Breath of the Wild.

BOTW Retrospective

I enjoyed Breath of the Wild, and was amazed by its mechanics, but by no means was Breath of the Wild a perfect game.

Recounting the flaws and shortcomings of Breath of the Wild is difficult, given the vastness of the game.

BOTW: The Good

  • Vast, incredibly gorgeous world
  • Diverse landscapes and climates
  • Adaptive procedurally mixed OST soundtrack
  • Game physics systems are extremely well integrated with each other
  • Lots to do. Everywhere you go, there’s something to do, look at, or discover.

BOTW: The Bad

  • Unintentionally existential purposelessness. Everything resetting every Blood Moon makes nearly everything you do in game seem pointless.
  • Weapon breaking system is too unrefined, with weapon durability being too weak to seem realistic. Weapons break all too frequently, and losing a favorite weapon kind of sucks, especially with the very rare or unique weapons which still have only a limited lifespan.
  • Too much sameness. Despite the huge world packed with a huge variety of climates, immense exploration and puzzle solving opportunities and other types of challenges, after a while they all sort of begin to feel too similar and repetitive.
  • Temple challenges are too brief/simple, and offer little replay value. They also offer little in the way of reward, since most items are temporary due to the weapon breaking system.
  • No dungeons a la traditional Zelda games, to offer deeper, more satisfying challenge. This is a frequent complaint, but actually there are numerous areas of the game that feel dungeonlike, but aren’t obviously dungeons per se: the four Divine Beasts, which are perhaps the closest thing to a Zelda Dungeon, but aren’t really very large, the Labyrinths found in several places on the world map, the Yiga Clan hideout, Hyrule Castle, which is very satisfying, and, with a very honorable mention to the Eventide Island challenge, which although not technically a “dungeon” in the traditional sense, has that aspect of being self-contained, and provides an excellent and novel challenge…
  • Enemy variety. The enemy roster is good, but small (albeit with many variations of each major type), with many of the classic Hyrule denizens missing: No Darknuts, Like Likes, Peahats, Tektites, Pols Voice, Gibdos, Goriya, Dodongo, Gleeok, etc., etc. BOTW took a “less is more” approach, focusing on making fewer enemy types excellent, rather than trying to include everyone’s favorites from all the previous Zelda titles. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the lack of variety does contribute to the sense of sameness and repetitive nature due to the vast size of the world.
  • Combat system, while innovative and more advanced than previous games, is rife with exploitable bugs that turn it into a mockery in the hands of a player. Even a low skilled player can spam bombs and exploit the terrain to turn combat into a snorefest. Advanced players can chain together bullet time and combo attacks to make even the toughest enemies trivial.
  • Enemy AI is too dumb, never learns, always falls for the same tricks.
  • Lack of urgency. The mainline quest seems secondary, almost an afterthought, while an ADHD Link constantly diverges from his Mission to perform endless trivial side quests, almost all of which have no actual impact on the world or serve to further the mission. If you forget what you’re supposed to do or get lost, there’s little in game to put you back on track.
  • Final boss is a letdown. If you get to Calamity Ganon after playing through the full game, you’re going to be so overpowered that it’s a piece of cake… but you can walk right up to him without playing any of the game if you want a real challenge. So wouldn’t it have made sense that if you take so much time to build up your power, Ganon would have also gathered his strength and become more challenging as well?

Although my “bad” list is longer, the strengths of the “good” list far outweigh the bad things. Breath of the Wild is a great game. I’m not in any way saying that BOTW sucks. But I’m pointing out that the game was not without its flaws.

I love to just hang out and chill in the beautiful landscapes of Hyrule and gaze at the amazing views. For being on a world saving mission where there is supposedly immanent peril in the form of The Calamity, the game feels completely non-urgent and relaxing, apart from the occasional random wandering monster spawn events.

Due to the vast size of the game and its endless patience for the player to complete it at their leisure, these encounters rapidly become rote and routine, with no real variety or challenge once you learn how the combat system works and how to exploit it so that enemies present no threat whatsoever. And even before you get to that point, you can always run away from enemies and easily evade pursuit, so there’s never really any sense of danger. Only a sense of having to do a mildly annoying chore, or perhaps a mild sense of amusement, like what a bored cat must feel when they manage to find a mouse that can briefly occupy their sadistic attention for a time.

Looking forward to TOTK

I expect more of the same from Tears of the Kingdom, with more features and more polish, and hopefully a lot of these minor complaints about what wasn’t perfect with BOTW addressed.

I’m picking up my copy later today, and looking forward to diving in to the new adventure, blogging my progress, and posting my thoughts.

Atari’s Mr. Run and Jump looks like a step in the right direction

One of the frequent criticisms I’ve offered of the company calling itself Atari these days is that they should have focused on developing new games rather than trying to launch a console. I’ve always wished them success, but have been skeptical about their strategy, and their execution on the AtariBox project left a lot to be desired.

That said, I am fair-minded, and will say when Atari does something right.

And it looks like they may have something, with their newest game, Mr. Run and Jump.

It’s a super mario style platformer, done in Atari’s “reloaded” style neon colored wireframe vector graphics. At first glance it does admittedly look a bit derivative of Mario, and a Mario clone isn’t likely to win over a lot of gamers. On the other hand Nintendo’s formula with Mario platformers has been tried and true for going on 40 years now, and Atari has been floundering for most of the past 40 years, so imitating Nintendo is hardly the worst approach they could arguably take with their game design.

The thing with Mario games is that while they’re always quality, they do rely on a bunch of traditions and conventions that are pretty established, and deviating from them can be problematic. So to truly break free of these conventions, it is a good idea to start over with new worldbuilding and introduce new characters, so that the “rules” are not in conflict with previously established “canon” that will offend purists, or just not be what people were expecting, and thus be rejected when there’s actually nothing wrong with taking a new approach. So maybe Atari can do something interesting and innovative with platformers with a new property like Mr. Run and Jump.

Does Mr. Run and Jump accomplish that? That remains to be seen. It’s difficult to do better at a run and jump platforming game than Nintendo has already done. On the other hand, if you’re going to imitate something, you might as well try to imitate the best there is.

Bottom line: it looks cool, and I’d give it a try.

Design ideas for competitive Wordle

Wordle, the guess a 5 letter word in 6 tries game, is a really good game. Any good game deserves a competition.

I thought about how to design a proper competitive Wordle, and wanted to share my ideas with the world so that people could use them to organize Wordle tournaments. I have no connection to the creators of Wordle or the New York Times; these are just my ideas that I am offering as an add-on to enhance the existing Wordle experience. I offer them freely for anyone to use or modify to suit, under the Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 license.

Csanyk’s Competitive Wordle Rules

Version 1.0, Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 license.

Level Playing Field

  1. Consistency is Fairness. All participants will play the same list of solution words, presented in the same order. All players will either play in hard mode (where any revealed hints must be used in subsequent guesses) or normal mode.
  2. No cheating. Players may not have advance knowledge of the solutions at any time, and may not consult a dictionary.
  3. Players may not receive outside help to come up with the solution, in any form.
  4. Players may use scratch paper if they desire, but the sheets must be blank before the start of the competition.


  1. To keep tournaments from running indefinitely, a finite time bank will be used.
  2. Each player will have their own time bank which they will be allowed to use during the period in which the competition is ongoing. Eg, the overall competition might be slated for a specific date and time window of, say, 2 hours, with each player granted a time bank of 1 hour to play their games, to be used within that 2 hour window, affording them up to an hour of break time, if they wish to use it, however they wish to use it.
  3. The amount of time given can be determined arbitrarily by the organizing body, but a suggested length of 1 hour or less would be reasonable for most tournaments. For larger tournaments, more time may be needed, or more rounds of competition, each with their own time bank. For ultra brief or high speed play, time banks of 5 or 10 minutes might be appropriate.
  4. For precise timekeeping, the clock start and stop can be coded into the Wordle program itself, but if such a feature is not present in the software being used, time may be kept externally, using a stopwatch or pauseable countdown timer.
  5. The timebank clock starts when the player submits their first guess for the current puzzle, and stops when they solve the puzzle.
  6. The player can take breaks between puzzles as often and as long as they wish, subject to any other rules governing breaks which may limit their number or duration or how often.
  7. There are no timeouts once a puzzle has been started.
  8. Players will play successive rounds of Wordle until they either fail to solve a round, or run out of time in their personal time bank.


  1. Players score points each round, based on how many guesses were needed to solve the Wordle.
  2. A solved puzzle will score base value of 100 points. The exact number used for the Base Points is somewhat arbitrary, and doesn’t matter a whole lot. The Base Points value will be modified by multipliers, as follows:
    1. 1/6 Solve: * 1. Solving in 1 is pure luck, and shouldn’t be rewarded with a special bonus.
    2. 2/6 Solve: * 4. Solving in 2 guesses involves skill as well as some luck (to get enough clues from the first guess) so should count for more.
    3. 3/6 Solve: * 2. Solving in 3 guesses isn’t easy, so deserves a bonus.
    4. 4/6 Solve: * 1. Solving in 4 guesses is par.
    5. 5/6 Solve: * 0.5. Solving in 5 guesses is good, but just isn’t as impressive.
    6. 6/6: * 0.25. Solving in 6 guesses deserves points, just the least number of them.
    7. X/6: * 0. No points awarded if you fail to solve.
  3. The above scoring system rewards fast play, in terms of guesses used, but also rewards cautious play, since solving each puzzle unlocks future scoring opportunities without limit other than that imposed by the time bank.
  4. Players can score more points per round if they solve in fewer guesses, but they can score more points overall if they play many rounds. But players can play the most rounds if they don’t take risky strategies that are more likely to solve early but increase the risk of busting, and they can play more rounds if they solve each round quickly.

Time Bonuses

  1. Optionally, solving each Wordle may afford opportunity to gain bonus time. This is a double reward, since solving in fewer guesses typically consumes less time already. To prevent limitless time, the structure will need to be carefully considered, and calibrated to the speed of the players. It’s forseeable that future players could become faster than we can imagine at solving puzzles, so to avoid infinite play, this will need to be adjusted.
  2. Suggested values for timebank bonuses are a starting point only, and are subject to revision.
    • 1/6: + 30 seconds
    • 2/6: + 20 seconds
    • 3/6: + 10 seconds
    • 4/6: + 0 seconds
    • 5/6: + 0 seconds
    • X/6: Timebank * 0; player is busted, their remaining timebank is zero per the normal rules.
  3. Typically the bonus possible in a single round should not afford a player more bonus time than it typically takes to play a single round; it should therefore only extend the player’s time bank to allow for multiple additional rounds of possible play if they accrue bonus time over several rounds of play.

Micro Points

  1. Micro points are an optional way to increase nuance with the scoring system. This is intended to help avoid ties.
  2. Micro points scored as follows:
  3. Grey letter (Each letter used in a guess but is not found in the solution: 1 point.)
  4. Yellow letter (Letter found in word, but used in the wrong position: 2 points.)
  5. Green letter (Letter found in word, used in the correct position: 5 points.)
  6. Micro points are tallied over successive plays in the round, so if the same letter is used in multiple positions as a Yellow, each unique position in the word that the letter is used counts for score. But if the yellow letter is played in the same position in multiple guesses, only the first time that letter appeared Yellow in that position scores points. For example, if the solution contains the letter T in the 2nd position, and the player guesses a word that uses T in the 1st position and in the 3rd position, in both guesses the T will score 2 points. But if the player played a word with the letter T in the 1st position in two guesses, only the first guess that yields the clue that T is in the word, but not in the 1st position should count for points, and any subsequent guesses using T in the 1st position will not score additional points.
  7. Likewise, only the first time the green letter is discovered for each position counts for points. Thus if the solution is YEAST, and the player guesses: 1. STATE; 2.STEAK; 3. MEATS; 4. BEAST; 5. FEAST; 6. LEAST, and fails to solve, the micro point scored for the round would be:
    2+2+5+2+0 = 11
    0+0+2+2+1 = 5
    1+5+5+0+2 = 12
    1+0+0+5+5 = 11
    1+0+0+0+0 = 1
    1+0+0+0+0 = 1
    = 41 micro points.
    The micro points then are divided by 10 and added to the regular points, so in this case the 4.1 micro points would add 4.1 points to the player’s tournament score.
  8. On an X/6 solve or unsolved round where the player ran out of time but still had remaining guesses, we can optionally score the “micro points” to reward whatever progress the player made in their final round, or we can simply award 0 points for the round since it was not solved.
  9. Micro points are normally scored for every round played. This could aid in making tie situations more unlikely, while de-emphasizing the final round’s micro points.

Tournament ranking and winners

  1. At the end of the tournament, players points are tallied over all rounds of play, and then ranked in descending order. The player with the more points holds a higher rank in the standings.

Xanthiom: an Atari 2600 demake, homage to Metroid

A day ago, a video of an Atari 2600 homebrew for a Metroid de-make was posted on Reddit. I’m used to seeing these types of post and then losing track of the project as nothing happens for months or years. But this developer, MathanGames is working very quickly, it looks like in Batari Basic, and has already released a ROM.

The first two releases had a vertical jitter bug that gave the game a feeling like you were playing in a world prone to frequent earthquakes, which made jumping gaps somewhat dicey, but the 3rd build seems to have eliminated this defect, and is more playable. To hopefully avoid copyright/trademark infringement problems from the notoriously litigious Nintendo, the project has been renamed Xanthiom.

The game is not really attempting to port Metroid, exactly, but there’s a many familiar features: missiles,energy tanks, jump boots, wave beam, varia suit all make appearances. But there’s no morph ball, no bombs, no vertical shooting, no ice beam, and no screw attack. The starting world feels like Brinstar, and is joined by elevator pad to an area that seems to be Norfair, but the map layout is different, so it’s only very loosely based on Metroid, more homage than port.

Still, you’ll find doors to shoot, red doors require a missile, of course. A few of the enemies from Metroid also appear: Zoomers, Rippers, Rio,, and Skree. Even the mini-bosses, Ridley and Kraid, even a fake Ridley.. or is that a Space Pirate? Sadly, no Mother Brain, no Metroids (unless I haven’t found them yet.)

There’s no musical score, but there are sound effects for shooting and getting hit.

Controls are pretty awkward; it feels like the jump mechanics could use some polish. And some of enemies don’t collide with the backgrounds, so pass right through walls.

I love it. I’m hoping that the developer continues with this project, adding more to it, because what’s here already shows a great deal of promise, and I love playing NES de-makes on Atari 2600.

Altogether, this has a feel similar to Princess Rescue, but I think it feels better. Not terribly challenging, unless you count the rather awkward jumping, but you’ll enjoy playing through it in 20 or 30 minutes.


Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (a no spoiler review)

I know this is going to sound weird, but Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves might be the best movie I have ever seen. It is literally perfect. Everything that it should have been, it was.

The above is not an April fools joke.

The movie didn’t set out to be the greatest movie ever made, nor is it high art, or even a “serious” film.

But they succeeded beautifully at capturing the spirit and mood of Dungeons & Dragons. The production hit every mark about as well as it could have been hit.

In terms of being everything it should be, Honor Among Thieves does it better than any other film adaptation I’ve ever watched. It aspires to be nothing more than it is, and it doesn’t need to.

It blends comedy, action, fantasy, and light drama superbly well.

The performances were all outstanding, sets and costumes spectacular, sfx and cgi weren’t the absolute best I ever saw, but I have no complaints.

It really felt as though I was watching a campaign played out by a group of friends who are having a good time and aren’t necessarily concerned about being epic at every moment, and indeed are quite comfortable being absurd, yet despite occasionally diverging into silliness it never feels like it goes off track.

There are moments when the characters say things to each other that feels almost more like “table talk” (player to player conversation rather than character to character).

And the story even had a coherent plot, without feeling contrived or like they rushed and forgot something, or threw out continuity because who cares, or anything. That’s so rare anymore.

I don’t know that it quite has the heart of a Princess Bride, but it is right up there with Pirates of the Caribbean or Guardians of the Galaxy, and I would be happy to see sequels if they could be done to the same level of quality, although I’m very content with the film as standalone.

Above all they truly nailed source material and the spirit with which gamers approach playing the game — deliberately, different characters are played with different styles, and the clash of acting styles and abilities is absolutely brilliantly suited to making a D&D film that really feels like D&D.

And so many little Easter eggs and references to the source material, if you’re looking for them.

If you have fond memories of playing the game, go see it.

40 years ago: How to Win at Video Games (Consumer Guide, 1983 edition)

The year was 1982-83 when I was in 3rd grade. Video games were very popular. ’83 would become known as the Year of the Crash for home gaming, but we didn’t know it yet.

Anywhere you went out in public, you were likely to see an arcade cabinet or two. At gas stations and convenience stores, at the checkout of the grocery store, at bowling alleys and at the local recreation center, and especially at dedicated arcades like Aladdin’s Castle or Chuck E. Cheese’s.

Space Invaders. Asteroids. Scramble. Donkey Kong. Pac-Man. Galaga. Dig Dug. Defender. Missile Command. Pole Position. Berzerk. Joust. Frogger. Popeye. Q*Bert. Qix. Time Pilot. Zookeeper. Legends. It was a golden age.

At 8 years old, I was now tall enough to reach the controls and see the screen. We had an Atari 2600 hooked up to the TV at home, and a growing collection that was about to explode when the Crash put games in bargain bins for pennies on the dollar.

And I occasionally had quarters and enough time to insert coin into a cabinet and get my ass handed to me in under a minute. Arcade games were beautiful — with vibrant, bright colors, booming sound, and evocative, illuminated marquee cabinet art. But they were damn difficult compared to the games we had at home. Arcade games were tough.

Sometime during that year, one of my classmates brought this book to school:

How to Win at Video Games by the editors of Consumer Guide

I was blown away by the photos of the arade graphics. So colorful. So detailed.

There were other books published about video games in this same period, but none of them had the production values of Consumer Guide. Most of them were in black and white and had few illustrations, and frequently the illustrations were actually drawings rather than screen captures or photos. Photography of CRT monitors was difficult, laborious, and expensive at this time, and printing at good enough quality for screen shots to be legible was expensive. Consumer Guide really stood out in giving this publication an outstanding treatment.

It was endlessly enjoyable to read. Each game was given a 4 page spread which briefly explained the game’s basics, and then went in depth to provide strategies for advanced play.

How much would it have retailed for back then? It must have cost a lot to publish, with its high quality printing in full bleed, full color. Consumer Guide showed the games so much respect by going high end. Justice done. I imagine today it would have run about $10. Back then, maybe $3-4? $6? I carefully peeled the price sticker off of my copy after I got it home, so it wouldn’t ruin the cover.

I don’t remember how, but I managed to get a copy of my own. I think maybe they had it at one of the scholastic book sales that they had at my school’s library, or something. Possibly it may have been on a magazine rack at the Waldenbooks at the local mall. Its format was like a glossy magazine, but the cardstock cover made it feel like it was meant to be a more permanent tome, to be held onto.

However I managed to find it, I bought a copy and immersed myself. I wanted to memorize it cover to cover. The patterns of to allow perfect play of Pac Man and Dig Dug were a bit much for me to memorize, but I still loved learning that there was some kind of order to the way the games presented their levels, that this order had a pattern, and that knowing the pattern could give you an edge to play better and get a higher score.

I also loved reading about the glitches in some of the games, like the trick in Galaga that causes the bugs to stop firing, or glitches in Robotron: 2084 that could be triggered by a skilled player with specific knowledge of them.

I spent hours and hours studying this guide, even for some of the games that I never saw in an arcade, such as Sinistar, which I only ever saw on a new TV game show, Starcade. I only saw a Sinistar cabinet in person many years later, at CLE PIN, just a few years ago.

Although short at only 96 pages, How to Win at Video Games was an encyclopedic guide to some of the best arcade games of 1982-3. I wish that they had done more of these books, in the same style, covering more of the classic pre-’84 arcade games.

Those games were so hard, if you didn’t know what you were doing you’d be out a quarter in under a minute. And a book like this only gave you evened odds to last a bit longer, and if you practiced, you could get the high score.

Today it’s a time capsule and a treasure. I still have my copy on a bookshelf, and it’s in remarkably good condition considering how much I read it. I really cared about keeping it in good condition. It bears the wisdom of the ancients.

This was like a precursor to 1987’s The Official Nintendo Players Guide, a black book that was the Holy Bible for the NES before Nintendo Power existed a few months later. A much thicker volume, it covered what at the time must have been the full library of games that were available at the time, or close to it.

Pre-Nintendo Power magazine, this was it: The Official Nintendo Player’s Guide.

And for a time, in the 1990s, it became customary for popular games to receive their own strategy guides, dedicated to a single game, going far more in depth, to give readers all the secrets.

Today, books like these have been largely (if not entirely) supplanted by the web, with sites like GameFAQs, Fandom, and others, usually fan-made, sometimes official. The web is a better medium for this content, for many reasons. But I do miss these books. Not that books are completely absent, but mostly it seems these days that books being published about video games tend to be more focused on the industry history, or take a more academic interest in appreciating their design, and putting them into a cultural context, than they are at providing tips and strategy. We are rather fortunate to have so much material available to us today.

Strike Zone Bowling 2nd beta

The guys developing Strike Zone Bowling accepted some of my feedback and released a 2nd Beta recently. I just played it, and these are minor improvements but polish is everything once you have the core game defined, and these definitely improve the game.

They fixed the arrows on the lane, so that they are drawn like a real bowling lane.

Corrected lane arrows for a more authentic experience.

They also added a scaling effect so that the ball shrinks slightly as it moves down the alley, adding to the faux 3D effect. I guess you’d call this a 2D perspective game, rather than a 3D game?

The visually shrinking ball really adds to the feeling of depth.

Anyway, I had only the tiniest part in these improvements, but I DID suggest them and they DID implement them, and that makes me feel fantastic. It’s already a gift that these homebrew developers are giving the Atari community new games to play 45 years on after the 2600 was new. These tiny little changes are almost like a personalized gift to me. Thanks to easmith and kevinmos3 for their excellent work on this game.

Berzerk: Bad Box Cover Art

This is the cover artwork for the Atari 2600 video game, Berzerk.

When I was a kid, I never understood this image.

The illustration shows the human protagonist blasting a robot, caught in mid-explosion.

I could not recognize the robot’s anatomy, due to the way it’s clipped by the frame of the image, and the weird low angle and rear point of view.

To my eye, it looked like I was looking at the head of some insect-like robot, with its mandible coming apart, showering electronic sparks and fire, and the large round feature looking to me like huge compound bug eyes.

It’s actually the robot’s arm, and that thing that looks like a visor coming out over the nose between the two eyes is just some kind of weird mechanical shoulder joint.

I don’t know why they chose this particular image for the cover art, but I always regarded it as poorly chosen — visually confusing, and not very effective as a composition.

Maybe if they had framed the image a bit less close-up, so you could see the whole robot, and have more of an idea of what it was, it could have worked. Not having the robot’s head in frame, really messes with your perception of the image, and the ambiguous shoulder joint that looks enough like a head that it can confuse you into not seeing the image correctly, is a bad choice for the cover.

It’s still not as bad as the cover for Mega Man. Although, I actually like the cover art for Mega Man, and I think Mega Man had a better composition, albeit poorer rendering.

ChatGPT: A fun dog-like language




Hello! How can I assist you today?

Do you know about “doggo”?

Yes, “doggo” is a slang term used to refer to a dog, typically used in a cute or affectionate way. The term “doggo” is often used on social media and in internet memes. It’s part of a larger trend of using cutesy, informal language online.

Are you able to speak in the doggo language?

As an AI language model, I can generate text in various styles and tones, including informal or colloquial language like “doggo language.” However, since “doggo language” is not a real language and is instead just a playful way of referring to dogs, there is no specific grammar or vocabulary associated with it. So, while I can generate text that mimics this style, it’s not a real language and is just for fun.

Cool. Do you know the lyrics to the song “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys?

Yes, I can provide you with the lyrics to “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys! Here they are:

[provides lyrics]

Can you translate the lyrics to “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys into Doggo language?

Sure, I can try to translate the lyrics to “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys into a Doggo language style. Here’s my attempt:

Woof woof, I can’t stand it,
I know you planned it
Gonna set it straight, this Watergate
Can’t stand rockin’ when I’m in here
‘Cause your crystal ball ain’t so crystal clear
So while you sit back and wonder why I got this dang thorn in my side
Oh my dog, it’s a mirage I’m tellin’ y’all, it’s sabotage

So listen up ’cause you can’t say nothin’
You’ll shut me down with a push of your button?
But woof, I’m out and I’m gone
I’ll tell you now, I keep it on and on
‘Cause what you see, you might not get
And we can bet so don’t you get souped yet
Schemin’ on a thing, that’s a mirage
I’m tryin’ to tell you now, it’s sabotage
Woof woof, our backs are now against the wall

Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage
Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage
Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage
Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage

I can’t stand it, I know you planned it
But I’m gonna set it straight, this Watergate
But I can’t stand rockin’ when I’m in this place
Because I feel disgrace
because you’re all in my face
But make no mistakes and switch up my channel
I’m buddy rich when I fly off the handle
What could it be, it’s a mirage
You’re schemin’ on a thing, that’s sabotage
Woof woof, our backs are now against the wall

Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage
Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage
Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage
Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage

Can’t stand it, I know you planned it
I’m gonna set it straight this Watergate
But I can’t stand rockin’ when I’m in this place
Because I feel disgrace because you’re all in my face
But make no mistakes and switch up my channel
I’m buddy rich when I fly off the handle
What could it be, it’s a mirage
You’re schemin’ on a thing, that’s sabotage

Woof woof, our backs are now against the wall

Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage
Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage
Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage
Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage

I can’t stand rockin’, rollin’
Stop the debatin’, make no mistake
Back in the saddle, you’re up on the stage It’s a sabotage

Hey woof, it’s a sabotage
Hey woof, it’s a sabotage
Hey woof, it’s a sabotage
Hey woof, it’s a sabotage

Woof woof, our backs are now against the wall

Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage
Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage
Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage
Listen all of y’all, it’s a sabotage

I hope that gives you a sense of how the lyrics might sound in a playful, dog-like language!

ChatGPT Feb 13 Version. Free Research Preview. Our goal is to make AI systems more natural and safe to interact with. Your feedback will help us improve.

Take 2

I didn't think that was as Doggo as it could have been, so I asked ChatGPT if it could do it a do again, and be extra heckin doggo this time.

Hello. Can you speak to me in Doggo language?

Hello fren! Me am Doggo ChatGPT. Woof woof! How can me helps you today?

Give me the lyrics to “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys, translated into Doggo language. Make it very heckin doggo, fren.

Okay, here’s the Doggo translation of “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys:

Bork! Bork! Bork!
Bark bark bark!
Bork bork bork,
bark bark bark!
Bork bork bork,
bark bark bark!
Bork bork bork,
bark bark bark!

They be stealin’ dog treats, woof woof!
Tryin’ to steal my chew toys, grrr grrr!
I’ll catch ’em in the act, arf arf!
Won’t let ’em get away, ruff ruff!

Bork bork bork,
bark bark bark!
Bork bork bork,
bark bark bark!
Bork bork bork,
bark bark bark!
Bork bork bork,
bark bark bark!

I’m a watchdog, yip yip!
Gonna sniff ’em out, snort snort!
Chase ’em ’round the yard, run run!
Barkin’ up a storm, woof woof!

Bork bork bork,
bark bark bark!
Bork bork bork,
bark bark bark!
Bork bork bork,
bark bark bark!
Bork bork bork,
bark bark bark!

They can try to run, but they can’t hide, growl growl!
I’m on their tails, pant pant!
Gonna catch ’em soon, wag wag!
Won’t let ’em sabotage, bark bark bark!

Bork bork bork,
bark bark bark!
Bork bork bork,
bark bark bark!
Bork bork bork,
bark bark bark!
Bork bork bork,
bark bark bark!

Bark bark bark,
woof woof woof!
Bark bark bark,
woof woof woof!
Bark bark bark,
woof woof woof!
Bark bark bark,
woof woof woof!

OMG fren. Good boi.

Thank you, fren! Me am always happy to be of service in doggo language. Woof woof!

I thought the first "translation" as too incomplete, not enough Doggo language and too much original words. And I thought that the second one was wildly exuberant, but lacked the directness of translation that I was hoping to see, and still didn't really feel authentically "doggo" to me. So I decided to do it a try myself.

Heckin Sab Lyrics by a Hooman Intelligence fluent in Doggo Language:

Ams can’t do it a stand, Ams know you did it a plan
Ams will do it a straighten, this Heckergate
Am no can stand doin a rock when Am in here
‘Cause your crystal ball not so heckin clear
While hooman do a sit back and do a wonder why
Ams got this heckin thorn in my paw
OMG fren, is bamboozle
Am doin you a tell, it is sab

So, so, so, so listen pup ’cause you can’t do a bork
Do me a settle down boy with a push of your button?
But heck you, Am out and do a go
Am do you a tell now, Am doin a heckin zoom

‘Cause you see a treat, you might not get
Can do a bet, don’t do excite yet
You scheming on a heckin bamboozle
Am trying do you a tell, it is sab


Our backs are now against the wall?

Bork bork, y’all, it is sab
Bork bork, y’all, it is sab
Bork bork, y’all, it is sab
Bork bork, y’all, it is sab

Ams can’t do it a stand, Ams know you did it a plan
Ams will do a straighten, this Heckergate
Hooman, Am can’t stand doin a rock when am in side
Because Am feel disgrace cuz all doin me a heck
Don’t do a mistake and do my channel a switch up
Am heckin angery when I do the handle off a fly
What is? Heckin bamboozle
You’re doin a scheme, is heckin sab.