It's taken me two fucking years, not metaphorical years but actual years, but I finally landed a ship in a spaceport! For two goddamn years I've felt like Charlie Brown but no more!
Today's landing took patience and a lot of beer but it's done. I may never play this game again but I landed a ship in Elite Dangerous. Seriously, this is the proudest I've been about any post retirement thing I've done.
July 18, 2018
There are four condos on my landing and two phone books were delivered. Since I don't have a land line they weren't for me. The books were enclosed in a plastic bag and one of my neighbors took the bag and left the book. The other one was just left for days until I brought it inside.
I wonder, is there a state requirement that Verizon has to distribute the things? Or is it just that they still make money off the yellow pages? And as to the phone book I rescued, don't worry, I gave it a good home. It lives on John Stewart's farm where it can run and play with the other phone books.
July 17, 2018
There's a story behind this picture.
My Dad made several attempts to get me interested in electronics. One time he made a Morse Code setup for me. The idea was that I would learn Morse Code, learn all the other electronic shit and then get a ham radio license. I never got beyond the Morse Code part and I suspect that most people who did learn it and go on to get their license never used it again. In fact a few years ago the FCC dropped the Morse Code requirement for a license.
Today I decided to put the other space game I own, Elite Dangerous, back on Kosh and screw around with it. I never got beyond the second training exercise, docking. In the original game, circa 1985, I learned how to dock. Here's a video of what docking looked like 33 years ago:
That's not my video but that's how you docked and I was very proud that I learned how to do it. Eventually I got a docking computer and after that I never docked manually again. In Elite Dangerous docking is more complicated.
I played Elite Dangerous a more then a year ago and while I could get my ship inside the station, I could never find my landing pad for some reason. I'm not going to lie to you, I didn't succeed in docking today, but I did find my landing pad. That made me so happy I took a screen shot. My pad is that illuminated yellowish thing at the top of the screen. I might have landed too had I known about my compass and that F and R were vertical thrust keys.
This game has a lot of keyboard commands, far more then No Man's Sky has.
I don't know if I'll play Elite Dangerous very long but I'd like to dock successfully at least once. And I've no idea why I couldn't find my assigned landing pad in when I last played the game. However, I'm not the greatest driver in the real world and that probably has something to do with it. If I do keep the game around, I'll save up 8,500 credits and buy a docking computer to automate the whole process. It's sort of like the Morse Code thing.
July 17, 2018
Although ganked sort of implies that humans were involved. It was an NPC ship that destroyed me, I ended up back at a space station with my ship but my supplies were gone. I'm not sure that I'm having enough fun in this game to start rebuilding from scratch. Hell, had I known I'd lose everything but my ship I would have run.
July 16, 2018
Return to Computer Gaming World
From 1985 to 2006 I read Computer Gaming World, eventually I subscribed to it. The CGW Museum has every issue in PDF format if you're interested in the history of gaming on a computer. I had the whole thing on my hard drive but lost them in February's crash, so today I downloaded them all again.
In the late 90s the magazine's page count began shrinking. CGW had a three month lead time and that meant that if a game came out in July, you'd read the review in October. In the 80s and for most of the 90s you simply had to deal with the lag, but once people started using the web, CGW, and other computer oriented magazines were in trouble. Three months simply wasn't acceptable anymore. People, myself included, started getting our reviews from gaming sites. I still subscribed to CGW until the end but it was out if sentiment more then anything else.
The last issue of CGW was the November, 2006 issue. The magazine had a brief half life as Games for Windows and lingered on until April, 2008. And I know I've mentioned the CGW Museum before but...
I got my Commodore 64 in 1983 and I bought it to play games. So I've had a computer for 35 years now, more then half my life. And while I don't subscribe to any gaming magazines these days I check out several gaming sites on a daily basis and the only podcast I listen to regularly is Gamers with Job. And the truth is that at 62, I think I'm permitted a certain sentimentality for my past. But sentimentality aside, I wouldn't want to return to the past.
July 14, 2018
A Gaming Revelation of Sorts
Now that I have a hyperdrive, I need to keep it fueled with a warp cell. I had two of the three components for that but I was missing something called heridium. I was all set to do a search for the stuff when I got a signal that there was a fuel source on a planet in the very system I was exploring. So I go to the planet, fly to the source and find the monolith you see in the screen shot. But while I found the monolith I couldn't find the fuel. A quick trip to Google told me that I actually had to interact with it by pressing the E key. Feeling especially stupid, I went back to the game, pressed E, had a nice chat with it, and got my warp cell.
Without going to Google, I would have been stuck at the monolith for a day or two.
And that's why the games I played in the 80s would take me months and months to finish. My Commodore 64 had no modem and if I was stuck I was shit out of luck. It wasn't until the mid 80s that I discovered Computer Gaming World.
Sometimes their columnist, Scorpia, would do a walkthrough of the game I happened to be playing and I'd be in luck, but most times I was still in shit out of luck mode.
But today we have video walkthroughs and life is wonderful. No, the early 80s weren't better unless you enjoyed being frustrated for days, weeks, or sometimes months. Meanwhile, I think I'm still going to look for heridium. One warp cell is good, two warp cells are better.
July 14, 2018
Stanley Kubrick on 2001
Recently an old audio clip of Kubrick talking about the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey turned up:
I've tried to avoid doing this ever since the picture came out. When you just say the ideas they sound foolish, whereas if they’re dramatized one feels it, but I'll try.
The idea was supposed to be that he is taken in by god-like entities, creatures of pure energy and intelligence with no shape or form. They put him in what I suppose you could describe as a human zoo to study him, and his whole life passes from that point on in that room. And he has no sense of time. It just seems to happen as it does in the film.
They choose this room, which is a very inaccurate replica of French architecture (deliberately so, inaccurate) because one was suggesting that they had some idea of something that he might think was pretty, but wasn't quite sure. Just as we’re not quite sure what do in zoos with animals to try to give them what we think is their natural environment.
Anyway, when they get finished with him, as happens in so many myths of all cultures in the world, he is transformed into some kind of super being and sent back to Earth, transformed and made into some sort of superman. We have to only guess what happens when he goes back. It is the pattern of a great deal of mythology, and that is what we were trying to suggest.
That's pretty much what Arthur C. Clarke said in his novel and while we were all sure that Clarke knew what Kubrick was thinking, it's nice to have the director confirm it.
July 12, 2018
Two Gaming Notes
I still don't no what to make of No Man's Sky. I'm still in the first system but my ship now has a hyperdrive and I should be able to join the rest of the galaxy fairly soon. I play it in short gulps, today I got the plans for the hyperdrive, went to the system's space station, bought the equipment I needed to assemble the thing and left the game, about an hour's worth of playtime. At an hour at a time the game is all right and it's there for me until my next major game comes along. I just wish the game would patch in joystick support, but that ain't happening.
And while I'm writing this Divinity: Original Sin 2 is downloading. I liked the game but I found its detailed, tactical combat frustrating when it came to the bosses. But next month the devs are releasing a patch that will add a story mode to the game. So I just may finish that game yet. And I no longer feel the slightest twinge of shame about playing games on easy mode. If I were a golf pro I'd be on the senior tour by now, you know?
July 12, 2018
Ant Man and the Wasp
That's the movie I saw today, Ant Man and the wasp and I really enjoyed it. It's a superhero movie and there's quite a bit of check your brain at the door involved in watching any superhero movie, even one like Unbreakable. So if I can buy Bruce Banner suddenly gaining and shedding 1,000 pounds of extra muscles at will, I can buy Ant Man growing to 80 feet without every bone in his body shattering from the weight.
In the end I suppose the superhero movie occupies the same wish niche the western once did. Most westerns had nothing to do with American history, they took place in a fantasy realm where shootouts happened at the drop of a hat and every town was just five miles away from Monument Valley.
A superhero film takes place in a world where we've made contact with aliens, most authorities are idiots, most soldiers, police and fire fighters are helpless buffoons and the day is saved by people with special powers (Superman), training (Batman) or special tech (Tony Stark).
So for all the pseudoscience trappings, a film like Ant Man and the Wasp belongs on the shelf next to Cat People (the 1942 version thank you) and Conan the Barbarian. Meanwhile, here's a gif of an ant playing the drums.
July 10, 2018
The Rule of Four
I finished Hypnerotomachia Poliohili and the last 50 odd pages were a brutal slog. What kept me going was that the next book on my list was a reread of The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. That was a centered around Hypnerotomachia Poliohili and I wouldn't have felt right rereading it unless I finished the adventures of Poliphilo.
I felt a little better when the narrator of The Rule of Four, Thomas Sullivan, says that Hypnerotomachia Poliohili was considered a difficult book to wade through back when it was published in 1499. That made me feel pretty good about finishing it.
July 7, 2018
Reading:Just 58 pages to go in Hypnerotomachia Poliohili. I'm not going to lie, I won't miss it when I'm through.
Gaming: During the Steam sale I bought No Man's Sky a game that was justifiably raked over the coals when it came out.
Supposedly it's gotten better and I bought it for $20. For the last week I've been trying to get into space. The game starts by dropping you into a planet with a harsh environment, a damaged ship and no memory. Last night I finally repaired the ship and later on today (it's 2:30 in the morning right now) I'll buy some beer and blast off into spaaace.
July 6, 2018
Harlan Ellison Summed Up
In this case, it's Jeet Heer in the New Republic doing the summing. The bit that really got to me was this:
It’s not surprising that Doctorow speaks of loving Ellison’s work as an adolescent. In general, Ellison is a writer whose readership leans heavily on people who read him as a teen and often outgrew him. As Tim Hodler of The Comics Journal noted, Ellison “was a perfect writer to discover in middle school or junior high.”
And looking back, I discovered Ellison as a freshman in high school and stopped reading him in my very early 20s. Dear me.
July 3, 2018
There are books that are come from a place I can understand without trying very hard. Then there are books that are really pretty alien to me. Take the Iliad. Yeah, Achilles is a jerk, Agamemnon is an asshole and you wonder how in hell to the Greeks put up with that longwinded twit Nestor. But I don't have to do mental gymnastics to put myself in Achilles' head. On the other hand the Ramayana seemed quite alien to me.
In the genre of epic fantasy E. R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros is as far as you can get from hobbits and the Riders of Rohan. Some people bail after reading the back cover and discovering it's about the great war between Demonland and Witchland. Now the heroes and villains of the book quote Shakespeare, Webster and Donne to each other, even though they're not on Earth. It's pretty far from my mindset. And Hypnerotomachia Poliohili is the kind of book Lord Brandoch Daha would keep on his nightstand.
Note that it's a good thing to read books that are coming from a place that's strange to you. In my case I always liked the overly described palaces, feasts and garments from the Worm. And Hypnerotomachia Poliohili is nothing but a book full of overly described things.
By the way, you can read and/or download the Ramayana and The Worm Ouroboros should you be so inclined. For the record, Tolkien liked liked Eddison's writing style but disliked the characters and the philosophy behind them. Eddison for his part considered Tolkien soft. As Tolkien put it in a letter:
I read the works of Eddison, long after they appeared; and I once met him. I heard him in Mr. Lewis’ room in Magdalen College read aloud some parts of his own works — from the Mistress of Mistresses, as far as I remember. He did it extremely well. I read his works with great enjoyment for their sheer literary merit. My opinion of them is almost the same as that expressed by Mr. Lewis on p. 104 of the Essays Presented to Charles Williams. Except that I disliked his characters (always excepting the Lord Gro) and despised what he appeared to admire more intensely than Mr. Lewis saw fit to say of himself. Eddison thought what I admire ‘soft’ (his word: one of complete condemnation, I gathered); I thought that, corrupted by an evil and indeed silly ‘philosophy’, he was coming to admire, more and more, arrogance and cruelty. Incidentally, I thought his nomenclature slipshod and often inept. In spite of all of which, I still think of his as the greatest and most convincing writer of ‘invented worlds’ that I have read. But he was certainly not an ‘influence’.
July 3, 2018
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