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  1. A box recently arrived at my house. In it was a handful of 2600 homebrews, including Medieval Mayhem, Gunfight, and Warring Worms. Now beforehand I considered myself a "pro" at games like PONG and Warlords. I was good enough at PONG aka "Video Olympics" that I was about an even match for my buddy using the difficulty switches to handicap myself, with me using the small paddle and him using the larger one. And I could whup him in Warlords, too. I remembered the AI being really easy to beat on the original Warlords, but when I popped in the Medieval Mayhem cart, I got my @ss handed to me on a silver platter. At first, I played a round with the default "fast" setting on 3 balls, then "slow", then "Medieval," getting beat every time, and after reading the manual, I set it to "Kids" with 1 ball, disabled holding on all but my own paddle, and set myself up as the Blue Castle, which seemed to be the strongest CPU player. I still kept getting whupped, and I couldn't win a single round, ever... My score (Medieval Mayhem, "kids", 1 ball): 0-1-4-5. It seemed like the "speed" setting only slows down the rate of the balls, but not the reaction of the AI players. Instead, the CPU players hit the ball every time with ninja reflexes, and the rounds drag on forever, sometimes with me (blue) eliminated before the red and green even had a single hit on their castles. I thought to myself, "I know I don't suck this bad," and their doesn't seem to be any option to actually "dumb down" the CPU opponents. It's like I'm playing the same "expert" opponents regardless of what speed I set the balls at. "kids" mode with 1 ball just made the gameplay painfully slow. I didn't recall sucking that bad, so I popped in the original Warlords and started a 1 player game. Like I expected, it was a total shutout within a few very short minutes. My score (Warlords, single player, variation #4): 5-0-0-0 While I must admit, the graphics and audio are absolutely superb, it's just not any fun unless I can get some kind of balanced difficulty. Next time my buddy comes over to my house, I'll give it a whirl, but it seems like there's no real way to dumb down the AI, short of playing a 2 player game in 4 player mode against "dead" opponents, which is boring and lame. I don't even own a second set of paddles. My friend is slightly less skilled than I am at Warlords (although he could whup my butt in Combat), and I imaging when we finally play each other on Medieval Mayhem, the CPU will probably annihilate us, unless we play doubles mode. Honestly, the dumb AI in the original Warlords made for a great multiplayer experience. In opposite corners, we would often play co-op until the enemies were annihilated, then it would be all out war between the two of us, winner take all. I don't know when I'll be able to invite him over again with his work schedule, and my mom and fiance are complete non-gamers. Anyone else run into problems trying to play Medieval Mayhem, or do I just really suck that bad? If I could somehow get the CPU opponents to be somewhere harder than Warlords, but easier than it is now, then maybe it would be a more well-rounded experience. I really want to be able to set the CPU so that I win some and lose some, but as it stands, Warlords is a pushover and Medieval Mayhem just seems unfair. Don't get me wrong, I want to enjoy this game, but it's hard to play against a CPU that constantly wins or constantly loses. I read the reviews and they said the AI was a lot smarter in Medieval Mayhem, but this is insane. I know Atari fixed the CPU difficulty in single player variations of PONG by setting a maximum velocity for the paddle to travel, ensuring that the human opponent would have a fair chance to win. I really want to love this game. Hopefully, the AI in "Gunfight" and "Warring Worms" will be a little more balanced...
  2. This isn't specifically Intellivision related, but I thought I might mention it for the interested: Coursera has a number of free, online courses, covering everything from algorithms to calculus. I just signed up for an interesting-looking course on Game Theory. I've previously taken the free AI and Model Thinking courses among others. So far, I've enjoyed them all. If you're thinking about designing a simulation game world, such as you might find in Utopia, or want to program "smart" enemies in Chess-like games, or something else that involves decisions and modeling, these courses provide a lot of insights on how to attack the challenge. I admit, part of my inspiration to reverse-engineer Utopia came from learning about all the different ways one could model an economy and population in Model Thinking. I wanted to see how Don Daglow did it in his world to compare. :-) The Model Thinking course comes back around in September, it appears. The professor that taught the AI course I took started his own online venture, Udacity. I haven't taken any of the Udacity-branded courses yet. They haven't had anything in their catalog that piqued my interest. Anyway... enough "advertising", such that it is. (Really, I'm just enjoying all these great courses!)
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