The wife and I are going to see a marriage counselor today to try and salvage what’s left of our marriage after Obama’s vicious attack.
On an unrelated note…
After seeing what other folks do with Tumblr, perhaps I’m being too serious with my posts. Hrmm…
Once again, I feel that I’m spending too much of my time with video games. If you’re a gamer, you know the feeling. One, two, three days will seem to have rushed by without altogether too much happening, save for work, or time with a loved one. You find yourself feeling like you’re out-of-touch with reality. You find that you’ve spent entire days of your weekend indoors, without even opening the door. It’s happened to me for the last time (for a while, at least)!
Starting this Friday, I’m giving up on video games for as many months as I can manage. My only exception will be so-called “couch” games, whereupon said games involve social interaction with people that are physically present, in the same room. Beyond that, they’re off-limits. What am I going to do with this newfound spare time?
For one, I intend to be more social. Hanging out with friends is something that happens far more rarely than it should for me. So, fixing that. Another goal is to use the money I’ve been putting into gaming towards my appearance. I need to update my wardrobe, and I’m realizing that a sense of style is helpful in a lot of ways. Third, I’m hoping to get caught up with some of my half-finished resolutions. Books to read, skills to learn, so on and so forth.
Q:Hey homie, generally my rates are between $30-$40 an hour depending on what I'm doing, whether or not it's something that I really like to do or if I can sell prints of it after it's done and so forth...
Generally it takes me anywhere from 6-10 hours for something comparable to a "Bad Dude", I believe the Beatles illustration took me about 10-12.
Good to know! I’d have to save for a while, but it’s going on my “want to do” list. Best start wracking my mind for ideas… :D
NERDS OF AMERICA:
We were once a country that made things: giantmetal cars, Hoover Dams, non-AutoTuned popular music.
But now we are stuck in an economy in limbo, surrounded by our Internets, our hipsters and our arguing politicians.
Nerds, I have a great idea to make America great…
Elder Review: Evil Genius
I’ve always been a fan of the Bond films, but it’s never been because of the crazy gadgets, snide one-liners or fast cars. For me, it’s all about the villains.
Some of you may remember that, ages back, there was a game series known as “Dungeon Keeper”. These games put you in the role of an… owner(?) of a generic fantasy dungeon. You’d assign your little helpers to dig out rooms from the rock, build treasure rooms, traps, libraries, and the like, and wait for the forces of Good to come and attempt to ruin your fun. And was it ever fun.
The series unfortunately petered out after the sequel, and while it’s possible to get it to run on current-gen OSes, it’s not easy. Thankfully, a third game of the genre was released in 2004, a well-rated, if rather unknown, spiritual successor to the Dungeon Keeper line. Instead of managing a dungeon, Evil Genius gave you the choice of one of three Evil Villains and shipped you off to an island where you could construct your fiendish empire. Instead of tunneling underground to build dungeons, you were hollowing out mountains or volcanoes to build secret bases. An upgrade, I’d argue.
The game really revolves around three major points; managing your small army of minions, carrying out nefarious schemes against the world at large, and thwarting the agents of justice (and foolish tourists) who land on your island and meddle. Your evil avatar him/herself doesn’t do much, which makes sense. Can you honestly imagine Dr. No installing his own death trap? I don’t think so. No, he (and you) have a score of minions to do such menial things for you.
Your minions excavate rooms, buy and set up the equipment you order, and fight your enemies. To make sure they can do that well, you’ve got to keep them healthy, loyal, and alert (as well as intelligent and well-rested). To this end, you’ll build barracks, beds, cafeterias, rec rooms, and other places for them to keep themselves in good shape; you never take direct control over any of the nameless minions, you just order something to be done and it gets done. Minions start out as yellow-jumpsuited workers, but can be trained to fulfill a specific role; by the mid-point of the game, your base will be patrolled by scientists, corrupt diplomats, and sharpshooters, among others.
As for nefarious schemes, Evil Genius doesn’t quite deliver in spades. Any actions taken against the world at large are managed through a Risk-board-esque display of the world, which shows several regions where your minions can be sent, and missions that they can attempt while there. Missions are discovered by having minions “plot” in a region, while money is earned by having them “steal” in a region. Both of these generate heat, which eventually causes agents, thieves, and soldiers of the various nations to pay you a visit. It’s an interesting balancing act, as some minions are better at stealing than others, some reduce the heat of others, some reduce the time it takes to achieve a mission, and so forth. It’s a simple system, but it requires constant attention. Occasionally an agent will show up on the board near your minions, and if they’re not told to “hide”, you’ll often lose more than a few. Each mission has a description, but few of them make any difference past the amount of heat/notoriety they gain you.
Finally, we come to the good guys. You will constantly be getting visitors from any of the major political powers, be they simple, thick-headed tourists, or government agents. Tourists come steadily, and will wander about, poking their noses in places where they may or may not belong, whereas agents come in greater numbers when your heat is getting too high. And they come armed. There are numerous ways of dealing with these pesky individuals. A well-hidden base helps, as does distractions; the primary one is the ability to build and outfit a hotel as a false front on the island. This will usually detain any tourists, and slow down agents. The other method is one of the game’s strongest points… traps.
Traps have two components, the sensor and the trap itself. The sensor is usually something simple, like a pressure plate or a motion detector, and is assigned a component to activate. The components get fairly inventive, going from giant wind turbines to a pit filled with piranha, and better yet, they can be combined. Not combined, as in a turbine that spews piranha, although that would be amazing, but more along the lines of “the victim trips the lasers, which turns on the turbine, which slams them into the wall, where they fall into the fire pit. Not only is this possible, but the game rewards you monetarily for crazy chains of gas traps, magnets, and treadmills. In all honesty, I get as much fun out of coming up with complex traps as I do just about any portion of the game.
Evil Genius has held up nicely over the last seven years, graphics-wise, as the game’s style (much like WoW’s) remains fresh despite the lack of antistropic filtering or light bloom. The whole game itself reeks of 1960s spy movie, from the navy seals synchronized swimming in the load menu to the atrocious earth-toned wallpaper of the rec room. There’s a fantastic amount of detail packed into Evil Genius as well; you might notice that a person’s footsteps sound and echo differently from room to room as they go from carpet to tile to wood floors. Bored minions with nothing to do will sneak off to low-traffic areas to catch a smoke. And so on. The controls are good, and have useful shortcuts that aren’t covered by the in-game material but can be found on any FAQ. There are some bugs, some of which can cause the game to crash, but none of which are game-breaking in that they require some extraordinary circumstances.
Evil Genius is, on the whole, a fantastic game. There’s something amazingly intimate about laying out a secret hideaway, figuring out the right location for the gun racks, and deciding that that the guy in the Hawaiian shirt has looked too closely at what’s stored in the freezer room for his own good. You’ll cackle at your traps, rejoice when your security system nips a troop of thieves in the bud, and groan as an elite agent breaks out of his cell to go on a rampage. it’s good solid fun with tons of replay value, and thanks to Steam, it’ll run on most any computer, and for $10, too. Definitely worth the money.
(+) - Captures the feel of the classic Bond films, broad scope, simple execution, highly replayable.
(-) - Some frustrating bugs, some controls not well explained.
Publisher: Sierra Entertainment (2004)
Note: Screenshots are from the Evil Genius page on Steam.
Game Review: Game Developer Story
Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for any loss of productivity, free time, or other damages that may occur as a result of purchase and use of the game reviewed hereafter.
Game Developer Story came as something of a surprise to me. I’ve had some serious reservations when it’s come to gaming on smart phones, and although I’ve bought more than my share of games for my iPhone, I’ve never found any that have shone quite like this. GDS is a “Sim Tycoon” game, in the same genre as Rollercoaster Tycoon or the Sims. You start out as a fledgling game development studio, with two employees, $500,000, and a dream. You generally wind up as an eight-man team whose members’ footsteps cause the barren earth to erupt with life due to massive creative talent, and more money that Creosote.
Like most sim games, there’s no story to speak of, but there are numerous goals you can aim for, such as designing a “Hall of Fame” worthy game, selling a million copies of a title, or developing your own console. The scope of GDS is pretty expansive, and will have you managing all sorts of aspects of the business of game design, from advertisement and headhunting for prospective employees to deciding what you’ll have at your booth at the yearly games convention.
You’ll have plenty of stats and elements to keep track of, from employees’ skills and salaries to the market share of a particular console you’re developing for, but it never becomes overwhelming; the designers have managed to strike an excellent balance between intricacy and micromanagement hell, and it shows. You don’t have to worry about every little detail to crank out a blockbuster title, but if you want to, the option’s there, and it can pay off big.
Unlike a lot of smartphone-based games, GDS isn’t exactly pick-up-and-play. You won’t accomplish much in five minutes of game time, so it’s not ideal for the truly casual audience. It doesn’t run in the background (at least on the iPhone), forcing you to reload from a save file if you take a call or need to use another application. It does have a prolific autosave function, but only offers one save game file, which can be frustrating at times. If you reach the 20-year mark, the supposed “end of the game”, it makes a note of your accomplishments, and from that point on you are no longer being scored, but can continue playing as long as you like. If you start a new game, any genres or types of games you’ve leveled up carry over to the next save, a sort of New Game+, which is a nice touch.
Overall, GDS is a fantastic title. Its graphical style is simplistic and harkens back to the style of a lot of classic SNES JRPGs, and its user interface gets the job done. The music also brings back memories of SNES games, but can get repetitive. Gameplay is fantastic, detailed, and I must stress this part, horribly, utterly addictive. I must have lost a good 15+ hours to this game, and loved every minute of it. My only complaints are the lack of support for multiple save files, and the fact that the judges at the Global Game Awards are obviously being bribed by the suits at Senga.
Rating: 9/10 (Buy)
Platforms: iPhone, Android
Sharia Law, Fear and Us
I get it. Sharia law is oppressive, no one would argue that. Women have rights, people of other religious beliefs have rights, rights were had by all. So, it baffles me why some of our lawmakers seem to have to make a point of passing legislation to forbid said law from “invading” the US.
For one thing, those that truly fear Sharia law run in primarily conservative circles, the same circles that tend to lean strongly towards legislation that (in this country) have been heavily influenced by Christian morality. You see the conundrum here? On one hand, they decry the possibility of religious law that would repress the rights of women, fornicators, homosexuals, and others, while on the other hand upholding laws that would repress the rights of the same, with the exception of women. Their struggle was more or less resolved decades ago, but historically speaking, you can probably guess which side of the suffrage battle the Right chose.
The other even more baffling thing is that these same people hold the Constitution up like a banner of war, and the document itself forbids, forbids the very thing they seem to fear. I know they’ve read it, and I know that they understand it, they’ve proven that well enough. So why the big hullabaloo?
Fear, plain and simple. Fear causes a very interesting reaction in people, when it comes how we behave politically. Its effects on politics have been studied much more extensively in recent years, particularly following the 9/11 disaster. You may not remember, but President Bush’s approval rating jumped more than 40% immediately following that calamity. One of the leading researchers into the topic, Dr. John Jost of NYU, performed an experiment on the idea that fear might directly influence political views.
To test the theory, Jost prompted people to think about either pain—by looking at things like an ambulance, a dentist’s chair, and a bee sting—or death, by looking at things like a funeral hearse, the grim reaper, and a dead-end sign. Across the political spectrum, people who had been primed to think about death were more conservative on issues like immigration, affirmative action, and same-sex marriage than those who had merely thought about pain, although the effect size was relatively small. The implication is clear: For liberals, conservatives, and independents alike, thinking about death actually makes people more conservative—at least temporarily.
In other words, when threatened, we retreat to the familiar. It makes sense, when you think about it. When you think further, it makes sense why conservative candidates would then make a big show of things that would cause voters to be afraid; it keeps voters close. Of course, there’s a way around this. A further study in 2009 noted that thinking about compassion breaks down this effect. A summary of the study’s findings sums it up well:
In line with terror management theory, this research demonstrates that mortality salience motivated increased support for John McCain in the absence of reminders of compassionate values. However, polls had indicated that Barack Obama was generally perceived as the more compassionate of the two candidates. Thus, when compassionate values were made salient, death reminders motivated participants to uphold these values by significantly increasing their support for the more compassionate Barack Obama instead. The implications of these findings for terror management theory, the 2008 presidential election, and political endorsements are discussed.
I’ve always found psychology to be amazingly fascinating, and this even more so. You ever wonder why that friend or relative of yours, the one who follows Fox News a little too closely, is always going on and on about how something or other is going to destroy America? Well, now you know.
It’s not original or witty, but does it need to be? No! Whatever your beliefs, whatever you’re doing on this auspicious day, may it be filled with family, friends, and the joy that these all bring.