Dota Fusions Released on Steam Workshop!


I’ve been working on this mod intermittently over three months.  It’s been a great learning experience, and now, anyone can experience it.  You will need the Dota 2 Alpha Workshop tools before you can play.  Hopefully, Valve will soon (ha!) open the floodgates for anyone to easily download and play custom Dota 2 mods.  Link to Steam Workshop page.

Utopia 1981 – RTS Retrospectives


Credited with being the first Sim / God game, plus on top, introducing RTS elements.


The Progenitor of the RTS Genre

Created by Don Daglow, who also created the first interactive baseball game – aptly titled “Baseball” in 1971, the first RPG based on Dungeons and Dragons – again, simply named “Dungeon” in 1975, and much later on, the first 3D RTS game – “Stronghold” in 1993.

Utopia is a 1 to 2 player strategy game where the objective is to score points.  Score is calculated every round, and at the end of the final round, a winner is declared.  Although technically there is always a second player, one can ignore it and focus on getting a high score.  The way you score points is by improving the well-being of the population living in your island.  You can perform actions like build housing, schools, forts, crops, fishing boats, hire rebels.  Each element has its own gold cost and benefits that help keep the people happy.  If the population is getting high, you have to build houses to accommodate them.  If they are rebelling because they are unhappy, then build a fort to deter them, or build more crops or fishing boats to feed them.  Because there is a second player, you can influence their island as well.  You can hire rebels, or build a patrol boat that tries to sink their fishing boat in order to put a cap on their gold income.  Although it feels archaic playing it today, one can appreciate the game elements that back in the day, were innovative.

Game Structure

At the start of the game, you decide how many rounds and how long they last.  During a round, a player can move a cursor around, which is used for helping build new structures or to manually control boats.  Gold is earned every round, and can also be acquired during a round, by either moving a fishing boat towards schools of fish, building crops and hopefully getting lucky with the rain patterns, or constructing factories to generate constant slow periodic income.  Population and well-being also fluctuate each round, keeping the player engaged in trying to build enough structures to keep them happy.  At the end of the last round, a winner is decided based on a score calculated in by the total well-being of the population of your island.


Players interact with the game primarily with two main actions, building structures, or controlling boats.  This is all done in real-time.  This game could have easily being turn-based, but it has real-time random elements that the player has to account for.  There are randomly spawning rain clouds that help grow crops, hurricanes that can sink boats or destroy structures, pirates that sink you fishing boats, while you attempt to chase schools of fish.  All the while, the opposing player can send their own boats to try to sink your fishing boats, trying to gain a lead in resources.  For its time and even today, it is an interesting mix of timing elements.  Though, it also negatively affects the gameflow.  Since you can’t skip a turn, you might find yourself waiting for a couple of round to end before you can actually do anything.


After having played it for the first time in 2014 ( 33 years later), I can tell how influential the game was, as the progenitor of several interactive strategy genres.  It came from an era that was focusing on arcade and sport genres almost exclusively.  Ambitious for what it was trying to do with the very limited technology of the time, being a console game to boot.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t aged well because of it.  My highlight with it is possibly finding the first instance in a real-time strategy where players can attempt to attack directly the enemy’s resource gatherers.

Cytron Masters 1980 – RTS Retrospectives

Cytron Masters

One of the earliest computer games that can be considered to have some real-time strategy elements. Created by Dani Bunten Berry.

The Forgotten Stepping Stone

Although more of a real-time tactics game, it was nevertheless an important bridge to cross, moving away from turn-based.  Players control a commander, and the goal is to destroy the enemy’s command center.   Player control the game by choosing which type of unit to create (mines, bunkers, commanders, missiles, or anti-missiles), ordering them to attack or move to specific locations.  Your actions are limited by how much energy you have, which is acquired by controlling generators in the battlefield.  The game is not turn-based like chess.  Commands are given real-time, limited by energy costs.  I haven’t found an effective way to play the game, so I won’t comment much more on this game.  Here is a video so you can see how it plays.

Status Update 10/28

Hello passerby.  I feel I’m need of a status update to massage a little bit the upcoming news and content that will be getting uploaded soon.  First, as to what I’m doing, I’m currently working as a programmer for Space Rhino Games.  Very soon we will be launching BreachTD for mobile devices, and I’m excited for when that time comes.  On the side, I’ve been working on a few personal projects that I want to share.  Before anything, I’d like to preface the upcoming posts with some background info.  More specifically, about my love for the RTS genre.

Before I had a PC, I was obviously a console gamer, spending my free time beating my brother in Goldeneye, or collecting Jigsaw puzzles in Banjo-Kazooie, though my parents didn’t frequently buy me games.  Most of my gaming experiences came from glancing at a cool-sounding name or cover-art, and picking it up from the aisle of a Blockbuster.  Back when I was 12 years old,I had just started reading gaming mags, so most of my choices were still instinctual.  So, in the year 2000, my console of choice was the aging N64.  I was staying at my father’s apartment for the weekend.  I had the console all setup, a vanilla cake ready in the fridge, and a mysterious new rental, waiting to be popped in… it was StarCraft 64, my first RTS.  When I first started playing, it felt very different to all other games I had played, but I loved it.  The feeling of being in command of a small squad or army, of having to make strategic and tactical decisions, I was hooked.  It was a sad day when I had to return it.

It was several months later when my best friend introduced me to Age of Empires 2.  A game, that for my console mentality, was impossible.  Shortly after, I acquired a PC and the rest is history.  So, how does this relate to the upcoming posts?  Well… I decided to do a little pilgrimage through the history of the RTS genre.  To document my experience of playing chronologically through the games that helped both to defined and elevate the genre.

Besides that, I’m also going to be talking about a new mod that I’m planning to release later this week for Dota 2.  Its called Dota Fusions, and I will be detailing it shortly before release.

Effective Horror in Games

This is an answer I gave in about somebody who played Outlast, expecting it to be more effective at horror than Amnesia: The Dark Descent.  I though it would be worth sharing here.

I’m providing a link from a website from a guy who has spent considerable time in answering that question and has reviewed and deconstructed a good amount of horror games. Chris’s Survival Horror Quest

In order for a horror game to be good, it needs to nail down the most important aspects that make good horror, irrespective of mediums.

For me, those are:

  1. Use your imagination against you. This where the approach less is more is most effective. The less you know about the world, the story, the motivations of opposing forces, the better. Also, the less you see and hear of whatever is the opposing you, the more effective it is when you do make contact with it. Everything should be a blur. With your brain working overtime in attempting to reconstruct it. Amnesia: The Dark Descent. As you have already experienced, this game does a very good job of revealing very little at first of who you are, where you are, and whats going on, at least for the beginning of the game. In fact, most “horror” games tend to reveal too much towards the latter parts of the game. ** Examples in Moves:** The Shining for me is one of the best horror movies and a perfect example this.
  2. Feeling vulnerable. As of late, there has been a rising sentiment that for a horror game to be truly horrofying, it can’t have combat. Although that is a sometimes an effective solution, but it isn’t the root of the problem. Many horror games that I consider good have included combat before. Those that have failed have been because they failed to make the player feel vulnerable. People consider the classic style RE games to be scarier than the newer iterations. Even though in those games you could equip a pistols, machines guns, or grenade launcher, the limited ammo and clunky controls made you feel like you weren’t fully in control. The health system in RE is also effective in making you feel vulnerable. The fact that you never really know how much quantifiable life you have or how many hits till you die. Dead Space started at first like this, but by the end of the game, you are a walking necromorph terminator with all the upgrades that you get. Another nod for RE: 2 is that you know that the game makes you feel vulnerable when you let out a sigh of relief every time you enter the typewriter room (in the case of Amnesia, it would be the hub rooms).
  3. Atmosphere It can’t be overstated enough how important atmosphere is for anything attempting to do horror. It’s more than just fog or a stormy night, it’s how the environment makes you feel. Another important aspect to consider is that good horror atmosphere is more a sum of the effective elements that make good horror. The Shining for me has fantastic atmosphere, and it takes place in a beautiful brightly lit hotel. I would describe good atmosphere as a feeling of invisible pressure. Sound has a very vital part in atmosphere building.
  4. Presentation. When it comes to graphics and sound, sound design is king. Turning off the sound in either move or game, is a quick way to turn the scariness to zero (Although silence can be effective is some situations). The main purpose though of the presentation is to create a strong link between the world and the player. The stronger this link, the more effective all the horror elements will be.
  5. Obfuscation of gameplay mechanics. The less you feel like you are playing a game, the better. What I mean by this is that you should not be able to predict the game. Predictability is the bane of horror. When you start to see the monsters as nothing more than path driven AI, the game has failed.

I haven’t played Outlast, but from what I have seen. its fails in points 1 and 5. The player experiences the enemies too much, desensitizing the player to them, and the chase sequences make it easier to see the enemies as dumb AI, I would also consider jump scare to be fairly cheap and I think they use them too liberally.