Dave’s (Brain) Droppings: Risky Biz

Hey there, Bros of the Cast, or whetever y’all call yourselves.  I’m Dave Malinsky.  You might now my name from some BroCast vids, where Paul and Eric very kindly mentioned my one-man play PLAYING AT WAR, for which my trachea will never forgive Eric.  Ow.

That play was about Theatre in Revolutionary-War era NYC, which is kinda the microcosm of what I’m all about, and what I’m planning on doing with this blog.  I’m gonna be mixing the super-fun geeky stuff that we live in in our world right here with the more “serious” book-learny history–cuz both sides of the coin are cool in their own way, right?

Right?

And that brings me to my first topic: Risk.  No, not the financial concept, the board game.  With the world conquest and the Australia turtling (dick move!) and that one fucking guy who takes out a whole army AAARRGH!  That Risk.

Most folks probably played or at least heard of Risk in some form as a kid, but the Risk that took over my life took on a bit of a different form:

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Yup, like many lonely types, I was a PC game nerd and of course Risk had its foothold there.  But this 1996 take on Risk was not the same dull, slimmed down kitten you can find on any phone or browser.  No, no.  This piece of software is a lion compared to them!  Because, reader, classic Risk is only the beginning…

This disk also contained Ultimate Risk, and a more apt title there was not!  This here is where this blog moves from being a mere gaming rant to the history-thingy.  Pretty much all the Napoleonic-era stuff you say in classic Risk that was merely hinted at: the diplomacy, strategery and set-piece battles–these guys lived up to their shit.  No implying here, oh no!

You had cool little finicky things, like random turn order, weather and terrain effects, nigh-unconquerable forts and capitols, random events, generals, historical scenarios, maps of Europe, Asia and North America, the chance to conquer–I mean liberate the world as USA, being able to control hundreds of soldiers in a single battle, amazing stuff.  But the coolest thing, by far was the battle system.  Because this was freaking ULTIMATE Risk, and nothing says ULTIMATE quite like making the battles truly epic!

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Cool map, but OMG dice!  😡

Gone forever were the dull, finicky rolls of the dice!  No longer would one fraking guy halt my Australia-conquering plans with his sacrifices to the god of 6’s!  Instead, battles would be solves the historical, proper, old-fashioned way.

With CARDS!

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This screenshot does not do any justice!

Seriously, this system was totally amazing to dice-haters like me.  You could actually see all your troops!  And they moved!  Each side picked their card and the battle was resolved in its own window, with the cards and other factors determining the winner. Big battled even had little movies showing what all the different troops were doing.  This stuff totally BLEW MY MIND.  

Why, yes, I was easily pleased as a kid…

And what really drove me crazy was that no later take on Risk ever played with this concept.  Definitely not Risk II.  It did basically nothing.

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What, a few extra strategic zones?  LAME!  Risk II my ass.  The one mechanic they added was a mere pittance that did not at all justify its pretty graphics:

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So pretty…so useless.

Risk clones, like the stuff put out by the Asian mobile app developer iEasyTech kept a wonky dice-based system.  Because they’re either idiots or because a simple dice-roll is easier to program…

Because I could NEVER figure out how Ultimate Risk’s tactical card battled actually worked.  The manual and help system coyley did not go into detail on this point.  The game was made when the Internet was in its infancy, no one did a serious study of how it worked.  Maybe it was a similar dice-based Random Number Generator with just more variables hidden by the pretty graphics and the false, confusing-unexplained choices behind the cards.

I’m really harping on this topic because over the past year I’ve really been getting involved into game-design web shows lately, especially Extra Credits and Errant Signal.  Folks like these and many others have been focusing on breaking games down into mechanics and systems to create engaging play and already I’m losing you.  But this stuff is really important and really interesting!

Seeing how these folks broke down current popular games, I was wondering if it would be possible to do the same with this one from my childhood, but there was a problem.

It was a Windows95 game and I have a Windows 7 laptop.  This perhaps explains why Ultimate Risk has been so lost to history and current game design.  You cannot find it on Steam or GOGames.com.  The images I’ve put up here are all that Google can find without Wikipedia-level spelunking.  I was able to find an Ultimate Risk let’s play.  Best to ignore the audio here, though:

I decided to just take the shot and buy the game off Amazon.  Worth a shot, right?

Nah.  Didn’t work.  Then I took the step any good internet-person would do: torrenting!

After three whole days of my lappy in the shop for the mountains of spyware, adware, trojans and the like I was totally stumped. But then I found releif from a most unexpected source.  Hooray for eBay!  There was a seller there who specialized in making old PC games workable on newer PCs.  I can put a link to his page in the comments if folks are interested.

So I’ve been completely obsorbed in my nostalgia-inducing copy of Risk!  It’s like my childhood come alive!  And with an adult’s eyes, I’m noticing just how much of a clusterfuck-y mess Ultimate Risk is.  You’ve got all these great ideas in there, but they all result in a slow, plodding game with none of the great strategic movements that made Classic Risk so classic in the first place!  

But I still maintain that Ultimate Risk’s Tactical Card System would make a great game on its own and I intend to prove it!  Nothing can stop me…except for my complete lack of knowledge of game design outside of those web shows.  Don’t know a thing about programming either–Java totally kicked my ass in college….

So what of this crazy, useless obsession?  Will I just get bored and move on to something else?  Yes, probably.  BUT!  I do plan on returning to Ultiamte Risk and giving it a shot amongst modern time wasters.

But maybe not next week.  Next week I’m gonna get all serious bizniz on your asses.

 

Till next time!

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One Response to Dave’s (Brain) Droppings: Risky Biz

  1. Brian says:

    Please share the link mate. Been looking for the original risk game for a couple years now. I have lost my CD of the game somewhere (I think I might have lent it to somebody years ago)

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