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For the Record
If you're a game designer and you opt for a checkpoint save system, I can live with that. I don't like it but I can live with it. If you opt for a save anywhere system, I like that and I like you as a person. And if you opt for a save anywhere system except during boss fights and throw in Quicktime button mashing your game sucks and you are a horrible human being. There, I feel better now.
December 4, 2013
Thanksgiving: Time to Get Out of the House
November 27, 2013
The White Album Times 100
A guy named Rutherford Chang had 100 copies of White Album by the Beatles in good old fashioned vinyl. He played each one of them, copied them, then overlayed all 100 tracks and the result is awesome. I suspect the result would have pleased John Lennon immensely.
November 27, 2013
I got much further in this game the first time I played it then I thought. I'm about 9 hours into it and I'm only just leaving familiar territory. I think, think mind you, that I gave up two years ago because of things called nekkers. Individually they're not too tough but they swarm and pull you down by weight of numbers. I had to get someplace, ran into a pack and they kept killing me. I think I just got past that place, hard to be sure there have been so many games in the last two years.
The game isn't perfect, it would have been nice to be able to see the keyboard commands without exiting the game, it would have been nice if the world map was in English instead of Polish and the landscape could, I don't know, be easier to get about in. That last one is probably on me, I have a lousy sense of direction. But to get 9 hours in two days out of a $20 game is a value if you ask me. I'm satisfied with the way things are going here.
November 26, 2013
If you ever wondered why Disney made it and Max Fleischer didn't, it might be because Disney gave the public Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies and Fleischer was giving the public shit like this:
November 26, 2013
Ultimate Fucking Pussy Mode Unlocked
A reference to this cartoon.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings came out in 2011. It was probably one of the last games I ever purchased on disk. I remember it being ridiculously hard. In fact, I couldn't complete the tutorial section. A few months later they patched it and it was still too hard. So I gave it to Pat. Pat is younger, faster and stronger then I am. I don't know if he completed the game but he had a much better chance of doing so then I did.
Time passed and more patches were issued. It's now the tail end of 2013 and people are looking forward to The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. I actually went to various gaming boards to see what they said about The Witcher 2. A lot of people were complaining that the game had become far to easy. It was selling for $20 on Steam so I decided to give it another try.
The game had a tutorial and at its end the game evaluates your skill and recommends a difficulty level. In my case it suggested I play on easy mode. I'm not proud, I took the suggestion. Let's see how far I get.
November 25, 2013
The Collapse of Cable Television
From Business Insider:
The TV business is having its worst year ever.
Audience ratings have collapsed: Aside from a brief respite during the Olympics, there has been only negative ratings growth on broadcast and cable TV since September 2011, according to Citi Research.
Media stock analysts Craig Moffett and Michael Nathanson recently noted, "The pay-TV industry has reported its worst 12-month stretch ever." All the major TV providers lost a collective 113,000 subscribers in Q3 2013. That doesn't sound like a huge deal - but it includes internet subscribers, too.
Broadband internet was supposed to benefit from the end of cable TV, but it hasn't.
In all, about 5 million people ended their cable and broadband subs between the beginning of 2010 and the end of this year.
And the rest is here and it's well worth reading.
November 24, 2013
Shadowrun Returns Again
I revisit games from time to time. The first time I played Shadowrun Returns I did pretty badly. I've since learned that the way to deal with it is to ignore all but a couple of the skills. If you try to be a generalist the game will kick your ass. So this time alChandler is an elf who is pretty good with a shotgun. He also know the basics of hacking. Now he's ready to take on the Blade Runner world of the future.
Because Shadowrun Returns is set in the middle of the 21st century. For some reason women started giving birth to elves, dwarves, troll, orcs, you know the whole tolkienesque menagerie. That led to considerable change, as well as a few broken marriages I assume, and now the future belong to the street samurai called, wait for it, shadow runners. it's a very sill premise. Still, there's something wonderful about a shotgun wielding elf.
You know there was a game that dealt with a similar theme, it was called Arcanum. I could have sworn it was a game from the 90s but it tuned out to have been from 2001. Go figure.
November 21, 2013
When Will the FDA Get Off Our Backs?
November 19, 2013
Tip of the Day
I regularly visit Salon and the NJ News site. I recognize that both sites are supported by ads and I don't use ad blockers. But recently both of them have been playing loud audio ads when you first arrive at their page. That I find obnoxious so I've been fighting back. In Firefox you can sort of hover by the forward and back arrows. That will bring up an icon that looks like a Lego brick that allows you to block Flash on that particular site. The result is that the soundtrack is disabled but non Flash ads remain. Not sure if Chrome has the same thing. If I'm reading this page correctly you can download a plug in for Chrome that will allow you to selectively block Flash.
November 19, 2013
Almost Human is a television show set in 2048. The two characters are a grumpy beat cop and his android partner. Together they fight crime and learn about each other as well.
The genre is near science fiction and that's a hard genre because the present keeps sliding over into the future so fast. you might think that 35 years might give the producers ans writers a nice cushion but that's not the case. Take last night's episode: Skin. John Kennex, the cop and Dorian, the android, discover there are sex bots out there with human DNA. Sexbots are legal and regulated but mixing human DNA with them is strictly illegal. As it turns out Albanians are kidnapping women, skinning them alive and transferring their skin to the bots to make them appear more human. Fortunately Kennex and Dorian capture the bad guys and rescue their latest victim before it's too late. Justice is served.
Now, take a look at this:
That's human liver tissue printed up by the good people at Organovo. And they're doing it in 2013. So, in 2048, even assuming that people can tell the difference between artificial skin and human skin, a shaky assumption if you ask me, the Albanians won't be skinning people alive. They'll approach a nice young woman for a small skin sample, $50,000 no questions asked and run the shit off in sheets as needed.
And the bitch of it is that I don't follow biotech that closely, I'm just aware that 3D printers are being used for lots of things. That's the thing about near science fiction. You need balls the size of Nebraska to do a near science fiction show these days. Still, I'm rooting for them.
November 19, 2013
The Seventh Seal
November 17, 2013
The Marble Faun
I finished The Marble Faun yesterday. That's a book about four friends who hang out in Rome, circa 1860. It took me a month to finish. It seemed that 70% of the book was descriptions of the city, the architecture and the art. I'm glad I was able to finish it but I need something a bit more contemporary. That's why I'm reading Smarter Then You Think. That's a book about how computers, networking, instant communication and such are actually making us smarter and more creative. After the first few chapters I can feel my IQ growing every time I fiddle with my phone while stuck in line somewhere.
November 17, 2013
Random Gaming Notes
Today is launch day for the PS4, and I hope it does well. I operate under the theory that a successful console launch can only be a good thing for PC gamers. Unfortunately, according to Polygon, the PS4's launch lineup is a little on the weak side. My own take is that sales of the PS4 and Xbox 1 will be a little week until the pipeline of games starts drying up for the current generation of consoles.
Yesterday I started the Bioshock expansion, Bioshock: Burial at Sea. And yesterday I finished it as well, then I finished it a second time. It was a little short on content for $15. Hell, I would have finished it in about 90 minutes except for the shock of dealing with real AI. After two weeks of battling AI from 1993 it was hard to adjust to enemies who were actually aware of me and would do stuff like trying to flank me.
It was fun, in spite of its brevity, and like Bioshock Infinite the expansion ended on a major mindfuck. One more expansion will be coming.
And I'm going to try Bioshock 2 yet again. I don't know what my problem is with that game, I should love it. But it took me some time before I completed Borderlands so we'll see.
November 15, 2013
Doom: Thy Flesh Consumed
Thy Flesh Consumed is the final episode of the original Doom game. When I started playing it I found it a lot harder then the first three episodes. I did a bit of research and discovered that among Doom aficionados Thy Flesh Consumed is not only considered the hardest episode of the original four, it's also considered harder then anything in Doom 2. I'm half way through the episode so I seem to be doing all right. I've also downloaded the Bioshock expansion and I'd like to get to that but I discovered I can only concentrate on one game at a time, Warcraft excepted. So it looks lie I'll have to finish kicking Hell's ass before I go back to Rapture.
Hmm... something vaguely biblical in that last sentence.
November 13, 2013
World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand (Black) is defending his title against Magnus Carlsen (White) currently the highest rated player in the world. They draw after 16 moves. I realize that chess is not football but a 16 move draw in the first game of the world championship? Well that's ok, I'm sure game 2 will be awesome!
Or not, Anand manages to exchange queens and fight his way to a draw. I realize there are reasons why grandmasters play like this but it's not exciting to watch.
November 11, 2013
If you defeat the spider demon boss at the end of the third episode of Doom you get sent back to Earth and get a little cut scene. Hell followed you back to Earth and demons are impaling rabbits! There was a certain manic glee to Id Software back in the day, wasn't there?
I'm now on the fourth and final episode of the original Doom. It's called Thy Flesh Consumed. If I beat it I will finally be able to say that I beat Doom. Granted I'll have beaten it 20 years after its release but I'm not proud.
November 10, 2013
I have some 2,100 books. As objects of beauty they surpass any ebook. They're also indisputably mine. I can loan them, give them away or keep them hoarded up til doomsday, all without leave from Jeff Bezos. And the really wonderful thing about owning a lot of books is that a fair sized library is a mirror of my (metaphorical) soul. Every bit of me is there on the shelves, feel free to come over and browse.
I do love my Kindle. It gives me instant gratification and the search function is a boon to my aging brain. But I'm aware of what I've given up. I have, by Amazon's grace, 300 ebooks. I would have gotten some of them from my local bookstore had I space. Sadly, I don't have the space for another bookcase, more's the pity. But I'm grateful for what I have. And with that in mind I'm going to share my favorite book with you. Not my favorite to read, but my favorite book as object. It's a cheap edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray and next year it will be 100 years old. it's not the most beautiful book in my collection but it does have one feature that makes me cherish it:
With wishes for
The Merriest Christmas
And Happiest New Year
Roy and Josephine are long dead but a tiny part of them live on in a book, on a shelf, in my living room. Such objects will become rarer and rarer as time goes on. I am not a Luddite and the Kindle is great but we are loosing something and I do regret it. What was it Gene Wolfe wrote?
There are a great many haunted buildings, tunnels, and bridges; yet I have heard in those cases in which the spirit is that of a human being and not an elemental, its appearances grow less and less frequent and at last cease. Historiographers say that in the remote past men knew only this one world of Urth, and had no fear of such beasts as were on it then, and traveled freely from this continent to the north; but no one has ever seen the ghosts of such men.
November 9, 2013
A Pleasant Day
I piss and moan a lot here so I wish to note that today was nice. Did some stuff on the computer, some errands and read a couple of chapters of The Marble Faun (tough sledding at times).
Then later Moon and I played World of Warcraft for the first time since Cad died. When Moon had left the game I logged off, had another beer and got through two more levels of Doom. Hell, I even put Kosh on the phone. I have a lot more good days then bad days but I tend to kvetch here. That's what the page is here for but I should note the nice days once in awhile.
November 9, 2013
Making the News Fun
This is today's XKCD:
Somebody instantly whipped up an extension for Chrome that did just that. This is from the NY Times::
Elf-Lord Orrin Hatch indeed. Of course the downside is that I'll be using Chrome and forget I have the extension turned on.
November 8, 2013
Why Didn't I Think of This Before
November 8, 2013
The Guy Is a Little Husky...
...but that's just a cheap shot.
November 8, 2013
GIMP Goes FTP
If you downloaded software from one of the major sites recently, you might have been asked to download an installer first and/or navigate through waves of come ons for tool bars and other crapware. I can understand it, bills have to be paid and all but it still sucks for the user.
GIMP is the open source alternative to Photoshop. It used to be distributed via SourceForge. Then they made a policy change:
In the past few months, we have received some complaints about the site where the GIMP installers for the Microsoft Windows platforms are hosted.
SourceForge, once a useful and trustworthy place to develop and host FLOSS applications, has faced a problem with the ads they allow on their sites - the green "Download here" buttons that appear on many, many adds leading to all kinds of unwanted utilities have been spotted there as well.
The tipping point was the introduction of their own SourceForge Installer software, which bundles third-party offers with Free Software packages. We do not want to support this kind of behavior, and have thus decided to abandon SourceForge.
From now on, Jernej Simoncic, who provides the installer packages, uploads them to our FTP directly, and from there they will be distributed automatically to our mirrors. Please check Downloads page for updated information. http://gimp-win.sourceforge.net will remain active for the time being and direct users to the new download locations.
I hope this become a trend. Meanwhile, if you want a good image manipulation program and can't afford Photoshop you can grab GIMP here.
November 7, 2013
I just made it to episode 3 of the original game. I'm past the base on Mars, past the base on the Martian moon Deimos and am now officially in Hell. To celebrate the occasion I'm switching from ZDoom to GZDoom. GZDoom is the version with better graphics.
You know, there was a time when I could have downloaded the original version of the game, downloaded DOSBox and somehow gotten it to work. I like the current age where I go to Steam, download the game, then download a couple of mods and we're there. To be honest the old days sucked, at least in comparison with the way things are done today. And now here's a shot of the gateway to hell in episode 3 in all its 800x600 glory.
What a time it was back then. As Yama the Death God said, "We done us some deeds!"
November 7, 2013
Some time ago I had a craving to play the original Doom. I found a copy somewhere but it required DOSBox to work. That was a deal breaker for me and I abandoned the whole idea.
Yesterday PC Gamer had an article on the Brutal Doom mod for Doom. The long and short of it is that I downloaded Doom from Steam for $5, downloaded ZDoom, which adds a few options to the game, GZDoom, which adds more options and makes the game look a tad less primitive and Brutal Doom, the mod that started all this. Then I entered Hell:
You'll have to take my word for it, Hell was a lot scarier back in 1993. And remember when I commented on the AI in Shadow Warrior? Well shit, the enemies in Doom are dumb as proverbial posts. The Steam package come with all four episodes of the original game and I've finished the first one already. You know, for some reason I was never able to get past the first episode of Doom. Twenty years after it was released I finally beat it. So you see kids, never give up.
November 4, 2013
Yesterday I'm at the pharmacy, waiting in line behind a young woman. She in her turn is waiting in line behind an older woman who is in discussion with the pharmacist. I note that the younger woman ahead of me is fiddling with her phone. I mentally scoff, "Can't she wait a few minutes without seeking the distraction offered by her phone?" Eventually it's her turn. But there's some kind of problem. Both pharmacists on duty go to their computers, trying to figure out whatever is wrong. After ten minutes they give up, ask the young woman to step aside and ask me to come to the counter. I put my phone back in my pocket and walk forward.
Yes, I've become that person.
In my defense, if I didn't have a phone it's not like I would have been using my senses to their fullest, observing my environment, drinking in the richness of life. No, I would have been standing there thinking, "Damn, I wish I had a book to read." I've never been what you would call engaged with my surroundings and the phone hasn't changed that. The phone just means now I have something to do. And, just so you know, if I know I'll have to wait somewhere, I'll bring my Kindle.
I'm only writing this because of two things. The first is an article on Salon called Smartphones are killing us - and destroying public life by Henry Grabar. Grabar opens with this anecdote:
Consider the case of a recent murder on a San Francisco train. On Sept. 23, in a crowded car, a man pulls a pistol from his jacket. In Vivian Ho's words: "He raises the gun, pointing it across the aisle, before tucking it back against his side. He draws it out several more times, once using the hand holding the gun to wipe his nose. Dozens of passengers stand and sit just feet away - but none reacts. Their eyes, focused on smartphones and tablets, don't lift until the gunman fires a bullet into the back of a San Francisco State student getting off the train."
I don't know what Mr. Grabar is trying to imply here. Were the passengers supposed to rise up en masse and subdue the guy with the gun? If I told you that I'd be the guy to leap across the aisle and tackle the bastard I'd be lying. No, I'd just be frozen in fear, hoping that the gunman chose some other poor bastard to shoot.
At any rate Mr. Grabar has several points to make and you can evaluate them for yourself. On the other side of the coin there's Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson. The subtitle is How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better so you know which side of the debate the author is on. And the link is goes to a NYT review by Walter Issacson, the man who wrote the Steve Jobs biography. So I suppose I've weighted things a little. But that's cool, alChandler's Halls is my own little kingdom, after all. But I think I will play fair, here's an article from Atlantic called All Can Be Lost: The Risk of Putting Our Knowledge in the Hands of Machines. It's by Nicholas Carr who wrote an article in 2008 called Is Google Making Us Stupid?. My response would be, "Fuck no," but I suspect Mr. Carr has a different answer to the question.
November 3, 2013
The Next generation of Consoles
Periodically I have to upgrade Kosh. A component fails or some game comes out that my video card can't do justice to and I drop a few hundred on new stuff. The last big upgrade was in 2011. Nothing's failed and Kosh can still handle graphics to my satisfaction so I don't anticipate spending any money on him in 2014. Eventually I'll have to but that's life.
Thing is, I notice the same blase attitude among console gamers toward the Xbox One and the PS4. They know they'll buy one, or both, eventually but there's no hurry. The air of excitement that accompanied the launches of the 360 and the PS3 just doesn't seem to be there. I suspect it's because the current consoles still have AAA titles coming out and the graphic improvements in the next generation are matters of degree.
Of course, I'm sure there are people salivating about both machines and to be fair, while I follow sites that have news about consoles, I don't follow sites dedicated to consoles exclusively.
The PS4 launches on 11/15. The Xbox One will be hitting the stores in late November. I'll be following the news about them because I'm curious to see if my instincts are right.
October 31, 2013
The folks who did Dead Island are working on a game called Hellraid, it's sort of a first person version of Diablo. Now, Dead Island never quite clicked for me but this looks more to my liking. And like Dead Island it will support solo and co-op play. I suppose it boils down to that I don't really enjoy killing zombies by myself but Hell's minions? Bring 'em on.
By the way, as long as I'm talking gaming, is anyone else psyched for the Oculus Rift? I really, really want one of those things
October 30, 2013
I have two folders of pictures. The first is Windows' My Pictures folder. That's where I dump things from my phone. The second is a folder labeled picture shit on C:. That contains some saved pictures from Kosh's earlier incarnations as well stuff I've added during his current build. I have both folders backed up to an external drive but I'm pretty bad at keeping the backups current. Today I deleted the old backups and saved the current versions. If I felt any more productive I'd shit myself.
October 30, 2013
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