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Playing in the World Series of Poker as an Underqualified Amateur

To my left is Barry Schulman, the owner of CardPlayer magazine, and a professional poker player. At the next table over is Jennifer Harman, considered to be one of the very best limit hold'em players in the world. As the dealer starts flinging the cards around our table, Jennifer stands up. She's just been busted out of the same tournament I'm playing.

I look down at my cards and see pocket queens, the third best hand you can be dealt. I've been waiting for a hand like this for hours.

Amid a field of 675 poker players, the majority of them professionals, and a handful of them famous, only 100 players remain. Improbably, I'm one of them. Luck has a giant part to play in this, of course. If not, I would have been busted out long before Jennifer Harman was. But at the same time, playing for twelve hours with some of the best poker players on earth has given me a lot of confidence. They're better than me, but I've held my own. I'm good enough, at least, to not be totally run over.

Adding Left 4 Dead Co-op Mechanics to Classic Isometric Party-based RPGs

On StratX

I played Left 4 Dead 2 for the first time ever, recently. I was immediately tickled by the way it handles players going AFK and leaving the party. It was near seamless, near-zero interrupted fun whether a player left or just took a break.

Beau Hindman invited me to an online co-op room, which is typical procedure in most online co-op games. Someone creates a room, and then invites friends or makes it public for anyone to join. In L4D2, up to 4 people can play together, with an NPC taking the place of any real player not present.

My first experience with this was half-way through a level. Beau said he'd be right back. After a short spell, his character had the word (idle) appear next to it. It did take quite a few minutes of just sitting there, but suddenly the AI kicked on and it was as if I was the only one playing the game with 3 NPCs. I could then go about playing the game as if I was just playing in single-player. Beau, however, did return and immediately was able to resume control of his character; I imagine by simply moving his mouse or pressing a button.

I would love to see the same mechanic in a party-based, Isometric RPG. I could imagine playing Avernum 4 and having a friend contact me on Skype or by phone, ask him if he wants to jump in and regardless of what I'm doing or where I'm at, he could take control of one of the four party members instantly.

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