Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Two Things I Learned While Modding Civilization IV

I recently delved into the world of modding. To be more specific, I started designing and coding a minor mod for the Civ IV mod, Fall from Heaven II. It is a small, simple mod whose only purpose is to check the terrain around a city when a unit is built. There is a small chance that the unit will receive a special, bonus promotion that increases their strength in that terrain.

A couple of interesting things I found out while trying to get my mod to work.

1) Hills and Peaks are not terrain in Civ IV. They are actually considered Plot Types, a distinction they share with water and flat land. Then, on top of that, you have the Terrain (grass, plains, etc), and on top of that you have Features such as Forest. And then Resources and Improvements fit in there somehow as well! It's a much more complex system than I had expected and it took me a while to track down the simple fact that Hills and Peaks are Plots, not Terrain!

2) Most of the art files are hidden, packed away in a special format that requires you to use a special extracting program to access them. And then some of the art files are packed even further, put into large sheets of graphic images with dozens or hundreds of other images!

Despite this weirdness, all in all, Civ IV is a very mod-friendly program. Most of the game is controlled via a system of exposed xml and python files. Easy to edit for even a novice programmer such as myself. And the community on the Civ Fanatics forums are very helpful about answering questions.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Clomp! League : Season One, Day Five

On the final day of the season, Azh's Bashas eagerly awaited the arrival of the elven team, Errandir's Earthweavers.

And waited.

And waited some more.

The Orcs, not overly known for their patience, began to get restless as the minutes ticked by and no sign of the elven team was seen. Coach Azhog tried to keep them focused on the upcoming game, but the Bashas began to brawl with each other. After a while, Azhog gave up and with a loud WAAAGH!, the entire team charged off to find some stunties to bash.

Battered and tired, the Bashas returned to the stadium to surprisingly find the elven team waiting for them. After some quick preparation on both sides, the game begins!

First Half:

Kickoff goes to the Bashas. Things look good at the start. Not only was the elven captain forced to pay several mercenary players to join his team, but in the opening minutes, Earguff the Troll lashes out and injures an elven lineman, sending him to the sidelines for the rest of the game.

Gugfak grabs the loose ball and dodging a pair of aggressive Wardancers, makes a beautiful throw to the goblin Ishtam.

But then a bad block by Badhag that results in him lying stunned on the turf, leaving a wide gap in the line that the elves quickly exploit. As their lineman converge on the goblin, Ulviir'nor, their star Wardancer, leaps over a defender and kicks Ishtam in the back, jarring the ball loose. The Wardancer smoothly snags the ball, dodges a tackle and sprints for the center of the field! The orcs quickly respond, taking the ball from Ulviir'nor and passing it to the Blitzer Galth. Leaving a swath of elven bodies on the turf, the Bashas push straight up the middle and score the first touchdown of the match.

On the ensuing kickoff, a riot in the stands spills over onto the field. By the time things get sorted out the half is over.

Second Half:

An even bigger riot breaks out at the start of the second half. This time, Marfak is sent to the turf, which leaves a wide-open lane down the sideline that the mercenary Wardancer takes advantage of, thanks in no small part to a short kick. In a burst of speed, he nearly reaches the endzone but a desperation charge by the Orc thrower Gugfak, breaks his jaw and sends the ball flying off the side of the field. Unfortunately, the throwback lands on the goal line and Ulviir'nor quickly scoops it up and scores, tying the game.

The Bashas are never able to recover from that bad luck, and as they try and push upfield for the winning score after the final kickoff, Badhag is knocked out and Ishtam badly hurt. Unable to get a solid advantage on the speedy elves, Gugfak makes a risky burst for the goal. But again the Wardancers respond, stunning him with a solid blow and covering the ball for the remainder of the half, content to leave the field with a tie game and most of their players intact.

Final Score: Bashas 1, Earthweavers 1

Around the League:
Season One closes out with a bang as three teams finish without a loss, garnering three wins and two draws each. The final match of the season turns out to be the deciding factor, as the Blood Fang Boyz chalk up their fourth win against the Facesmashaz to walk away with the trophy, despite having lost to the dwarves of Ground Round on day two (wins are worth three points while draws are only worth one)!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Clomp! League : Season One, Day Four

In a clash of titans, two undefeated teams meet in what is sure to be a battle royale as Azh's Bashas take on the Stormvald Horde led by Anar the Terrible!


In a deep rugged canyon, covered in effigies of Gork and Mork, the two undefeated teams of Division Two squared off. The Chaos Warriors and Beastman of the Stormvald Horde gestured across the field at the Orcs of Azh's Bashas, who spurred the home crowd to newfound heights of enthusiasm, noise and carnage!

But the homefield advantage backfired when coach Azhog got distracted signing autographs before the game, resulting in the Bashas assuming a defensive formation when they were on the receiving end of the kickoff!

First Half:

With many players in less-than-ideal positions, Marfak the Blizter dashes over to grab the ball, only to have it taken from him by the orc thrower Gugfak. This initial confusion led to a quick push and blitz up the middle by the Chaos Warriors of Stormvald. One plucky young lineman by the name of Hysh not only gets the sack, but recovers the fumble and rumbles downfield towards the endzone, sure that he is going to score the first touchdown of what is sure to be an illustrious career. The orc blitzers double-time it back upfield, Badhag shadowing Hysh and catching one foot of the runner just before he crosses the goal line. It looks like things might be turning in the other direction, but as bodies fly and everyone scrambles for the ball, Gnar'nogor the Beastman, leading scorer for the Horde, easily snags it from the turf and slips into the endzone for the first score of the game!

The Bashas get the ball back with only a few minutes left in the half. This time they have the right formation in place, and as the lineman Gramnast clears the way, Badhag streaks down the field, catching a pass from Gugfak and sprinting into the endzone to tie things up. There is only enough time on the clock for the ensuing kickoff, so the Chaos Warriors take out some of their aggression on Gorfang, knocking the Black Orc out cold as the whistle blows to end the first half.

Second Half

The second half sees the Stormvald beastman fielding a short kick and forming a tight wedge on the left side of the field. The Bashas move to block, though an untimely knockout on the Black Orc Varag allows the Horde to move upfield and threaten to score again. But once again the blizters rally, laying several hard hits on the lead blockers, pushing the entire box backwards several yards. Marfak in particular earns his paycheck, seriously injuring one Beastman and killing another who was only saved by the timely (and successful) intervention of the team Apothecary!

The battle goes back and forth, injuries mounting on both sides as the Horde tries to surge forward and the Bashas repeatedly throw both themselves, and their unconcious opponents, in the way of the ball carrier. Even the Warriors and Black orcs get in on the action, leaving a befuddled Earguff standing in the middle of the field by himself. The ball switches hands several times, but for the most part, the beastman keep a tight grip on the squig-skin, frustrating the orc's attempts to recover it and clear a ball carrier from the scrum.

As the end of the game draws nigh, the beatings take their toll and the Stormvald Horde can only keep five men on the pitch to the Bashas eight. But nonetheless, they still have a chance to score up until the final moments, but an inspired tackle by one of the orc lineman again saves the day.

Exhausted and battered, both teams hobble to their respective locker rooms, feeling blessed to have come out of the meat grinder with a tie score without any permanent injuries.

Final Score: Bashas 1, Stormvald 1

Around the League:

Lord Malal's Marauders again have trouble holding onto the ball as the Orc Blizters from the Blood Fang Boyz rumble over them for a final score of 3-0.

The Avenger Ogre Borgrut again has an outstanding day, accumulating three casualties and two deaths against the battered Earthweavers. Final score is 3-1, with the lone elven touchdown coming courtesy of their star Wardancer, Ulviir'nor.

The Horned Herd battle the Plaguebringaz to a 1-1 tie game, while Ground Round and the Facesmashaz game ends with the same score.

The other elven team, the Timberland Treehuggers, also contending with numerous injuries, fight tooth and nail but lose to Bufo Draconis despite a last second touchdown run. Final Score: 2-1

In the final match of the season, the Bashas do battle with Errandir's Earthweavers.

Clomp! League : Season One, Day Three

In Day Three of Season One, the undefeated Bashas face off against the lizardmen of Bufo Draconis.

First Half:

The Bashas get the ball to begin the game. Their thrower, Gugfak, grabs the ball off the turf and moves up the center of the field, looking to the left side where the Black Orc Galnak Break'zom is busy knocking a little Skink to the ground. The Orcs rumble forward and with a sharp, angry hiss, the Lizards of Bufo Draconis move to meet them, swinging the bulk of their team towards the left. One lone Sauros charges the Orc Blizter Marfak who has slipped downfield on the right and is looking back over his shoulder for a pass. Spotting the charging Saurus, Badhag stiffarms the lizardman, just as Gugfak sees him open and makes a risky throw. But the gamble pays off, and Marfak catches the ball in stride, scoring the first touchdown of the game before either team has even begun to warm up.

The Orcs kick off and the Skinks grab the ball and make a move up the right sideline, with the beastly Kroxigor Krokquetli leading the way. The Bashas charge in, expecting to bulldoze over the defenders as they had against their previous opponents this season. But the Saurus are as tough and mean as the Black Orcs, and the Bashas find themselves on the losing end of a vicious melee. Falling back a bit to recover, the Orcs try and block all the open lanes to the endzone. But the Skinks slip through, dodging the arms and legs of the orcs. And with a quick handoff along the way, the Draconis waltz into the endzone, scoring a touchdown of their own to tie up the game!

The third kickoff of the first half sees the lizards in a defensive holding pattern. But the Bashas rip up their standard playbook, opting for some razzle-dazzle. Gugfak runs to midfield and makes a short toss to the goblin Itsham, who dashes farther upfield before handing the ball to Marfak, who streaks down the sideline, scoring a touchdown!

The first half closes out as a little Skink by the name of Uazshix slips on the blood-stained turf and knocks himself out. Score at halftime is 2-1 in the Bashas favor.

Second Half

Receiving the kickoff to begin the second half, the Draconis team opts for a different strategy, giving the ball to the brute, Krokquetli, as the Skinks and Saurus form a protective perimeter. Again an ugly brawl starts on the sideline, with several players from both sides hitting the turf.

Darting through the confusion, the sneaky Skinks repeatedly stab the legs and other exposed bodyparts of the Basha team in an attempt to distract them from the ball carrier! Fortunately for the Orcs, the Krokigor gets overly confused and spends several minutes staring at the ball in his hands.

Damage is dealt out to both teams. Both Sorruk and Gorfang from the Bashas are KOed. A Skink is thrown out of bounds into the waiting arms of the fans. Blood and sweat flies through the air as each team attempts to find some leverage in the chaos. Krokquetli finally wakes up and makes a cut back to the other side of the field while still holding the ball. The Orc Blitzers and Black Orcs swarm the beast and make a tackle as Badhag fractures the skull of a nearby Skink. Marfak slips in past the geat Krokigor, snags the ball, dodges the fleshy tail as it swipes at his head, and finds his way the endzone for his second score of the evening!

At this point, the game was decided. There was no time for Bufo Draconis to score two touchdowns. So what had been a very thinly disguised fight became all out war as the lizards swarmed over the Black Orcs and Troll, trying their best to find a weak point for their slender shivs and claws. Galnast Eat'Ch'Ya suffers a broken neck as he tries to throw the Skinks off his back, but despite several more stuns and knockouts, no other major injuries occur as the referee calls an end to the game.

Final Score: Bashas 3, Draconis 1

Around the League:

Borgrut Lucky continues his reign of terror, seriously injuring a Treeman and killing an elvish Thrower as the Altdorf Avengers end the game tied 2-2 against the Timberland Treehuggers.

Thanks to the fumble-fingered Chaos Warriors, the Facesmashaz pull off a 1-0 victory over Lord Malal's Marauders.

In a matchup of wounded teams, the Blood Fang Boyz recover from their beating of the previous day and win 2-0 versus the Horned Herd despite a groin injury to their troll in the latter part of the game.

Ground Round defeats the Plaguebringaz 3-1 and Stormvald Horde pummels the Earthweavers 2-0.

On Day Four, the Bashas collide with the Stormvald Horde.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Clomp! League : Season One, Day Two

Matchup: Azh's Bashas (Orc) vs the Timerbland Treehuggers (Wood Elf)

In a suspicious set of coincidences, both an Orc Blizter and the sole Thrower for the elven team suffer training mishaps right before the start of the match. The Bashas calls heads (of course), but the Treehuggers win the toss, electing to receive the opening kickoff.

1st Half:

In a move that was to set the tone for the entire game, right as the whistle blew to start the game, Mightybud, the Treeant lineman for the Treehuggers, misunderstood his orders and attempted to make an ill-advised dodge through the line of scrimmage. This did not turn out well, as Eargruff, the Basha Troll, threw him to the ground, where he would remain for the entire first half.

Deprived of any sort of heavy defense in the middle, the Treehugger pocket, with Wardancer Mahtalyth carrying the ball, decided to move up the left side in a tight formation. They quickly found themselves beset by the Black Orcs and blocked by lineman and blitzers, but their cage held strong against the first assault. And with a nifty pass back to Heven, their up and coming catcher prodigy, they made a sudden and decisive strike for the endzone. Heven cut back across the field, passing several startled orcs along the way. Two teammates followed close behind him as the quickest orcs bolted down the field to try and prevent the score. One lone Orc lineman by the name of Surrock, playing a deep defense, sprints between the goal line and Heven, delivering a solid shoulder tackle at the speedy elf, which Heven neatly dodges. However, that dodge puts him in reach of several other orcs. One of the quicker elves shifts to the outside, sliding into the endzone behind the defense as Heven makes a desperation throw. Surrok, however, is not to be denied, and he reaches out and plucks the ball from the air before it has hardly left the elf's hand.

What proceeds after that is a running melee up the right sideline, with players on both sides going down left and right, and the ball switching hands several times, but steadily moving towards the Treehugger's goal. Earguff delivers the first casualty of the game, as he brings his oversized paws down on the head of the unfortunate lineman, Al 'Anur, who dies instantly as the Mighty Blow cracks his helmet apart in a burst of splinters!

But elvish hardiness is little match for orcish strength, and as the injuries mount for the Treehuggers, the ball bounces out of bounds and is thrown back to the other side of the scrum. The goblin Itsham, in his debut appearance, emerges from the chaos, ball in hand as he cuts across to the opposite side of the field, sprinting for the touchdown in the final seconds of the half.

2nd Half:

The elves had fought a tough and hard battle to try and stop the lone touchdown of the first half, and their team had paid the price. The Treehuggers already seemed defeated, for they could only field seven players. And even worse, they had to kickoff to the Bashas to get the half started.

The elves played a defensive setup, with five players deep. Gugfak picked up the ball and moved forward while the blitzers charged downfield and the Black Orcs surrounded Mightybud after knocking out the other linemen. But despite being outnumbered, alone and surrounded, the Treeant stood firm against several poundings. Perhaps his extended rest in the first half had given him renewed strength for the second.

Gugfak weaves back and forth for a few seconds, unsure of what the elves are planning. He knows that they are both sneaky and swift. He finally spots a sure opening and sprints forward, shoving the ball into the waiting hands of Ishtam who has an open lane at the goal and an assured second touchdown for the game. But the goblin fumbles the ball, allowing one of the Treehugger Wardancers to move forward and pick it up. He then tosses it back towards the other defenders, hoping for a little razzle-dazzle, but the catch is botched, leaving the ball sitting in the Treehugger endzone. With the help of a teammate, one of the Basha Blizters pushes the other Wardancer out of the way, and pounces on the ball, making the score 2 to 0 in favor of the Bashas with only a little time left on the clock.

In the waning moments of the game, the elf catcher Elvanhanfel makes a bold run up the middle, sprinting past several blockers, only to trip on his own shoelaces and break a collarbone. Gugfak makes a quick grab and a terrific downfield throw to one of the Blitzers, but time expires before he can score another touchdown for the Bashas.

Final Score: Bashas 2, Treehuggers 0

Around the League:

Strength prevails over quickness this week, as both Wood Elf teams and the lone Skaven team of the league suffer lost games and numerous injuries. Errandir's Earthweavers are only able to field four conscious players by the end of their game against the lizardmen of Bufo Draconis.

In a battle between the followers of Chaos, Lord Malals' Marauders bested the Horned Herd by a score of 1-0 and left one of the Herd's Beastmen lying broken on the pitch.

The Dwarven juggernaut of Ground Round rolls over the Blood Fang Boyz, winning by a score of 2-1 and leaving no less than four orcs out of action for their next game.

Borgrut Lucky, the oft-confused Ogre Lineman for the Altdorf Avengers, has a short moment of glory where he actually picks up the ball and hands it to a teammate, but such heroics were not enough as the Avengers lost to the Stormvald Horde with a final score of 1-0.

On Day Three, the Bashas meet up with the lizardmen of Bufo Draconis

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Clomp! League : Season One, Day One

Here is a recounting of the first game of rookie coach Azhog's career as he takes Azh's Bashas into a game against the human team of the Altdorf Avengers!

The night sweated with excitement as the crowd awaited the start of one of the most anticipated matches of the day.

Azh, coach of the Bashas, knew more about smashing stuntie heads than he did about the game of Blood Bowl, but he figured some of his bashing skills would come in handy. His team consisted of Earguff the Troll, four hulking Black Orcs, four swift and deadly Blitzers, one Orc with an oversized arm, Ishtam the Goblin, and several Orc Grunts to fill out the roster.

The human team marched into the converted dwarf fortress as the sound of the Greenskin drums filled the air. Their square jaws set tight, the torchlight glinting from their beady eyes, the humans were here for business. The humans themselves were hard to tell apart, but there was no mistaking the sight of the hulking Ogre brute in an Avengers uniform. He would make it tough for the Bashas to dominate the center.

The Bashas got to pick the coin flip, and Azh chose heads (heads are always good), winning the toss and choosing to receive.

First Half:

The Bashas set up a strong front line, bringing the Gugfak the Thrower up to handle the ball duties. But the humans were fast and wily. Several slipped through the line, easily sacking the hapless orc thrower and retrieving the ball. But the quarters were tight. There was an immediate fight for the ball as bodies flew in and out of the pile, the ball tumbling across the stone floor. Suddenly, one lineman bolted out of the scrum, ball in hand, preparing a throw to a lone blitzer who waited downfield, sure of the imminent touchdown. But in his excitement, he failed to hold on to the ball, and it slipped from the back of his hand, hitting the turf with a solid thud. But he quickly turned around as a Black Orc clotheslined a human blitzer who was rushing for the ball, scooped the ball from the ground, swung around to the blitzer and shoved the ball into his hands. The touchdown came moments later as the Greenskins burst into frenized cheers.

With a little less than half of the first half to play, the human team prepared to try and get a score of their own. After the kickoff, the humans gathered into a tight knot and pushed at the right side of the field.

The Bashas formed a protective pocket, seeking to prevent any sudden runs for the endzone while knocking down anyone they could. Taking a gamble, a lone orc blitzer swooped from the sidelines around the back of the human's formation, knocking the ball carrier to the ground. The ball popped loose, squirted between the tackler's legs and further backfield. Another blitzer rounded the corner and snagged up the ball, but there was not enough time to run for a score. The halftime whistle blew just as the Ogre and Troll headbutted each other and both fell unconscious to the turf.

Second Half:

Again a kickoff to the human team. This time they elected to charge up the left side. The ball carrier moving quickly to knock defenders out of the way as his entourage provided cover. But again, it was the Orc Blitzers who made the difference, putting on full steam to come around the front and put a solid shoulder into the carrier, knocking him to the ground and sending the ball into the stands. Unfortunately, an overzealous gobo in the crowd overthrew the nearby Orc Blitzer, the ball tumbling into the Bashas endzone! Letting out a Waaagh!, a lineman, the only Orc near the ball, ran as fast as his legs would carry him, reaching the ball after several agonizing seconds and turning back upfield, looking to dump the ball off to a speedy Blitzer as soon as he could.

Meanwhile, the Black Orcs, with support from Earguff the Troll, turned from the center of the field, hitting the knot of human players and driving them towards the sidelines. The fighting was brutal, with several KOs on both sides and more than one player thrown out of bounds to the not-so-tender mercies of the fans. But the Orcs held, preventing the humans from breaking free.

The Avenger Ogre, usually a stalwart in the center of the field, had first forgot what he was doing for a while, then proceeded to take on a lone Black Orc and perform a repeat of the finale of the first half, leaving both players stunned as the Basha ball carrier trotted unimpeded up the sideline. The Ogre somehow pulled his bulk off the gound and even started to make a dash for the surprised and alarmed orc! But, as players and coaches alike screamed curses and instructions, he stopped suddenly, picking at his belly to extract some bit of unidentifiable gunk, and then happily eat it as he looked around to see what all the noise was about.

The Bashas continued down the sideline, rejoicing in their second touchdown of the evening. Some time remained on the clock, but the the game was effectively over by that point. Though one of the goblin shaman did cast a last-minute curse during the kickoff, causing a fumble by the normally sure-handed human thrower. The Orc Blitzers salivated in anticipation of another quick score, but in the excitement of the moment, the little shaman forgot to remove the spell, and a series of fumbles by the orc players closed out the game.

Final Score: Bashas 2, Avengers 0

Around the League

In other non-Basha news, this week saw the two Wood Elf teams meet in a head-to-head match. The result was an embarrassing 3-0 loss by the Treehuggers as the wardancers of Errandir's Earthweavers ran around, through and over the more pass-oriented teams.

A beastman of the Stormvald Horde was killed in their match against the lizards of Bufo Draconis.

On Day Two, Azh's Bashas square off against the Wood Elves of the Timberland Treehuggers.

Clomp! Blood Bowl League - Inaugural Season

Shadowclan has been hosting a small Blood Bowl League for the past few weeks. The name of the league is Clomp! and I will be recounting the exploits of my team, Azh's Bashas with some additional commentary on results from the other teams in the league.