Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim . . .

It is three weeks into the campaign. After days of delicate maneuvering and pained diplomacy, you finally have your enemy in your crosshairs. Ever arrogant, they charge through your defenses - right where you want them! - and the trap SNAPS shut. Congratulations! Weeks of trench warfare have just paid off, and you can now blaze, godlike, towards glory and VICTORY!

This is every tactician's fantasy.

Grand strategy allows for thrilling drama - everyone loves to see a well thought out plan come to fruition. But how do wars of attrition actually play out on a digital battlefield like GXC?

After multis, a stalled game is probably the most damaging thing that can happen to team morale. To be fair, no game is ever really "stalled". Despite the seemingly static map, Commanders are always furiously working backstage to wrangle a satisfactory outcome for their team. There are, however, unfortunate consequences to this.

First comes the boredom. Troops energize less frequently. Compliance plummets.

Then comes the cabin fever. The chat rooms are stuffy and the tension is so taut it sets your teeth on edge. Previously likable teammates suddenly turn nasty. Even in the best run teams, impeachment polls begin popping up with alarming frequency. People become impatient and launch individual forays...just for the lolz. But then they get spy polled. And then they get pissed. Loudly.

Pretty soon the kids are spending fifteen hours in bed rereading Animorphs, Marge won't get off the phone, the Swedish exchange student runs up a credit card bill large enough to fund a small military coup and the cats won't quit keeping you up at night and it's all MADNESS. The MADNESS never stops. IT JUST NEVER STOPS!!

. . . these things happen.

It's also impossible to assign blame, because Commanders really do believe they are acting in the best interest of their teams when they play it slow. Players, however, also cannot be faulted for expecting a bit more ACTION. The game, after all, is meant to be FUN.

Perhaps it is enough that Commanders simply keep in mind that even the most brilliant strategies might backfire if they take too long to effect.

Anyone have any ideas how to prevent games from stalling, or at least make the slow moments more bearable? I know a guy with a banjo...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

GXC Press: Teambuilding 2.0

Title: Teambuilding 2.0

Source: The Bumblebee

About: GoCrossOffice


"GoCrossOffice integrate both virtual and physical elements into their team games. I am sure GCO are not the only player in this space as it looks like a very promising future market area. The GCO website references a number of independent research reports on the use of gaming for non-educational purposes by IBM, and Forrester."

Monday, December 29, 2008

No Lightning Game on Wednesday

Hey everybody,

This is just a quick note to say that there will be no lightning game on Wednesday to allow for the New Year celebrations.

HAPPY 2009 (in advance) EVERYBODY!!

The GXC Team.

Lightning GXC: Weekly Roundup!

Congratulations to the following teams and their commanders for games well played!


Marge in the Simpsons in Britain! game

Cdr. Mariah Jimenez '09
Cdr. phillip morrin '08



Professor Plum in the Clue in a Haunted House! game

Cdr. Inar Graur '08
Cdr. phillip morrin '08



Ariel in the Disney Girls in the Cafeteria! game

Cdr. Inar Graur '08



The Cardassians in the Star Trek in Disney World! game

Cdr. Emma Elfeirr '13



Sean in the Founders in Manhattan! game

Cdr. Matthew Ahn '08
Cdr. James Tabush '10



The UK in the WWII in SoCal! game

(no comanders at game end!)

Pam in The Office in Springfield! game

Cdr. Jeremy Sobczak '09



The Teen Titans in the Superhero Teams on the Internet! game

Cdr. Chad Kimes '08

Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter in Britain! game

Cdr. L Cheung '11
Cdr. Matthew Ahn '08


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Sunday, December 28, 2008

GXC IRC Channel

Quint Sakugarne recently resurrected the GXC IRC channel. It's #gxc on . Like Mariah Jimenez said, the new chat is "hawt" so you should consider checking it out.

For those of us who know little to nothing about IRC (Internet Relay Chat), the following is a brief "how to" that should be helpful.


IRC is an instant messaging platform like AIM and MSN. To join it, you need to get an "IRC client". Pidgin (which pretty much runs on all major operating systems) is one of the clients that was suggested to me so that's what this tutorial will be based on.

1. Download Pidgin here.

2. Once you're done with the download process, you'll be prompted to "Add" an account

3. From amongst the options of possible IM services, remember to select "IRC"

4. Also remember to type in as the Server of choice.

5. When you're done, type in /join #gxc as the channel you want to connect to, and voila:

6. If you're interested in taking advantage of IRC's many features, a handy list of IRC commands can be found here.

7. More IRC clients can also be found here.

Thanks to Quint for restarting the channel, and for digging up much of the info in this post!

Update: It's probably a good idea to sign up with your GXC name, so that people can immediately identify you. Cheers.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

GXC Family Tree


Aimee Hart has, unfortunately, succeeded where the most brilliant minds of our generation have failed; she has fashioned the (partial) * GXC Family Tree.

* click on the names with dotted lines to view other branches of the tree.

Please be warned that GXC assumes no responsibility for any mental trauma that might be suffered as a result of clicking the link above. Amongst other horrors, it reveals that Leah Hosteler is in a scandalous four way relationship with phillip morrin, Cid Campeador and Matthew Ahn, and that Emma Elfeirr happens to be, simultaneously, the love child of Aimee and Cid as well as the spawn of an unholy union between herself and Sydney...

The entire thing is pretty upsetting, to be honest. Again, viewer discretion is emphatically advised.

In a related matter, I seem to be in the market for marriage to a person, apparently, known as "Mom". Applicants must be healthy, big boned, and whose only mode of transportation is the MC Hammer slide.

Thank you.

Update: the tree has been updated. Emma is no longer from the collective womb of Aimee/Cid/Emma/Sydney. Instead, James Tabush is his own father.

Update: the link to the tree has been removed because it was sadly defiled early this morning. But we have a secret weapon: LOVE. Happy Holidays, everybody! *Love vibes to all*

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

GXC Update: Game Pause

A three day turn is currently in effect, to allow us all room to enjoy the holidays without distraction. For example, turn 37 of the All India Bollywood Championship! will now change on Saturday 27th December.

Finally, thanks for an incredible 2008! It goes without saying that it is your invaluable feedback that has carried us so far, and we're extremely excited for the many promises of 2009.

Happy Holidays, GXC!

The GXC Team.

Update: Lightning games will continue to run as scheduled!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

GXC Press: And Jay got married!!

Yup. Cdr. James Westmoreland (mentioned in the What Makes a Great Commander? post) just got hitched.

Is it just me or is there a trend developing...?



Jedi Cdr. Marjorie Dorime just got engaged, people! Swing by the Game Chat of the Star Wars game to wish her your best!!

GXC meetup at the wedding? :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

What Makes a Great Commander?

Enlightened leadership can make all the difference. Even with superior numbers, a team without fast thinking people at the helm will find that it will soon be cannibalized by smaller but better organized teams. So what makes for great commanding?

Too many cooks...

Team dynamics will ultimately determine if the command structure will be an inclusive meritocracy, or will become something more closely resembling a military dictatorship. A handy rule of thumb, however, is that the fewer the people calling the shots, the less opportunity there is for miscommunication.

Unless significant effort is put into assigning roles, it is inevitable that Commanders will find themselves issuing contradicting orders and possibly scaring off potential allies as a result. And of course, every additional Commander is yet another opportunity for an enterprising spy to maneuver his way into a position to cause maximum damage, an unfortunate lesson that the Jedis had to learn recently in the Star Wars game.

The danger of too few commanders, however, is that good ideas might never come to the table. An atmosphere conducive for players to contribute tactical suggestions via team chat is one compromise.

Commander roles

The various functions that a commander has to perform can be grouped into four broad "commander types":

1. The Diplomat: who coordinates alliances and overseers spy efforts.

2. The Tactician: in charge of finalizing troop movements.

3. The Punisher: who enforces site rules and mediates between disputing players.

4. The Comrade: who maintains high team morale and a fun atmosphere.

The relative order of importance of these roles is up for debate, and commanders will find that different points in the game will call for different approaches. The majority of players certainly seems to agree that the Tactician's job is more important than the Diplomat's, and that both of them are more important than the Comrade and the Punisher, respectively.

My personal order is Comrade, Tactician, Diplomat and Punisher, due to my experience in my very first GXC game, GoCrossZodiac (any GXZodiac veterans around?). The team was Gemini & Cancer, and as victory seemed increasingly assured, a treacherous ally quickly whittled us down to one territory. Although defeat was very clearly imminent (we didn't have force shields then) the inspiring leadership of Cdr. James Westmoreland and Cdr. Karen Mack reminded us that the glory was not in the winning, but in the experience. We would go on to repeatedly fireball our way through the territories of our encircling enemies, and even long after we were eliminated, the members of team Gemini & Cancer could be found actively engaging each other on the team chat - a team spirit reinforced by the camaraderie encouraged by the commanders.

Tactics, diplomacy and the enforcement of rules will all result in victory, but the game should never get in the way of a good time. It is atmosphere that will encourage players to recruit friends unto the team, and make playing worthwhile.

A Winning Formula

Unlike most other games, GXC is pretty easy to jump into. This is reflective in the fact that people who are active on the chats, rather than players who have previously served as Commanders, are more likely to be voted Commander.

Nothing appeals like success, however. Commanders who have the Battle Plan up promptly, those who interact frequently on the chats and those whose tactics bring in the territories are less likely to face the guillotine than nice Commanders who are simply ineffective. In fact, players are more likely to tolerate a tactless Commander than a genial, but hapless one. Charisma simply cannot make up for incompetence.

What makes a great Commander?

Vision, agility, and an enlightened recognition of your responsibilities towards your teammates. And this. And also possibly this.

Players have their own scorecard, though, and some were kind enough to reveal theirs to us:

Robert Dodson (4)
Emma Elfeirr (4)
Shreyan Sen (4)

phillip morrin (3)

Thomas Chi (2)
Andrew Hoy (2)
Brian Lee (2)
Justine Sanger (2)
"Spooky Voodoo" Patrick Smith (2)

Carlos Arata
James Deyerle
Nicolas Feltman
Patrick Frenzer
Inar Graur
Benji Li
Joshua "RiceRiceRiceRice" Lin
Ding Ma
Mark "Daggor" Nagy

The favourite, of course, was:

some guy/can't remember/me/myself (5)

Thanks to all those who took part in the survey!

GXC Press: HMC Wins Tech School Cyberbattle

HMC Wins Tech School Cyberbattle on the Harvey
Mudd College website, about the Tech Tournament '08.

"The game has been a great activity for the school, both internally and externally," said Tyler Wolf '09, one of the HMC team commanders. "Around here, it has brought together a lot of people who otherwise would not interact much. For example, as a commander, I met several freshman from other dorms who wanted to help out."

"Several students also wrote computer programs to simulate battles, enabling the commanders to make better decisions. The programs told the commanders the degree of certainty involved in any attack."

"From this we were able to track the participation levels for each team in the game, and observe trends," explained Wolf, a computer science major. "For instance, we observed that separating one of a team's territory away from the rest of their empire resulted in a drastic reduction in participation. Presumably, the players who were cut off from their team became demoralized and stopped playing. This observation informed our strategizing, and we were able to use the same tactic to great success many more times."

Lightning GXC: Weekly Roundup!

Congratulations to the following teams and their commanders for games well played!


The Justice League in the Superheroes on the Internet! game
Cdr. Angel Hudgins '11
Cdr. Emma Elfeirr '13

Cdr. phillip morrin '08



The Pink Ranger in the Power Rangers in Washington DC! game
Cdr. Emma Elfeirr '13
Cdr. Emma Elfeirr '13



The Orcs in the Lord of the Rings in Charity City! game
Cdr. James Tabush '10
Cdr. Emma Elfeirr '13
Cdr. phillip morrin '08



Manufacturing in the Industries in Manhattan game
Cdr. Dan Panzarella '12
Cdr. Patrick Llllll '12
Cdr. Matthew Smerud '11
Cdr. Chad Edwards '10
Cdr. J C '10
Cdr. Emmanuel Quartey
Cdr. Chase Bonnette '11

Cdr. Jeff Woodworth '06

The New Kids on the Block in the Boybands in Space! game

(no commanders at game end!)



Mr. Tumnus in the Narnia in New England! game
Cdr. David Fantarella



in the Dinosaurs in Eastern America game
Cdr. James Tabush '10
Cdr. phillip morrin '08

Horror in the Movie Genres in the US! game
Cdr. Inar Graur '08
Cdr. Patrick Frenzer '11
Cdr. Jake Sundstrom
Cdr. Matthew Ahn '08



The PC in Consoles in the Consoles in India! game
Cdr. David Fantarella
Cdr. John Pole '11

Opera in the Browsers in India! game
Cdr. Thomas Ferguson '08
Cdr. James Tabush '10