Saturday, February 2, 2008

Actual [chat]

This is a [chat]. Were this a potential [chat] it would not be a [chat], as, rather it would be a potential [chat]. To be a [chat] it must be a [chat] rather than a potential [chat].

Apply this to your world view.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Crank Dat Druid Boy

I heart satire.

No More Heroes (not a review)

I had resolved to finish Killer 7 before talking about No More Heroes, but I cannot in any way stand to play Killer 7. People talk about that game in terms of its polarizing effects and they are right to do so. I am obviously on the "HATE" side.

Regardless. Please stop reading if you don't want to know anything about Killer 7 or No More Heroes, because I'll probably be spoiling some things.

When the Greek playwright Arisophanes wrote The Wasps in 422 BC, he created a comedy which relies somewhat heavily on slap-stick humor. There's a bit of drunken debauchery and characters wearing erect phalli, all of which would appeal to the baser sort of audience. Some suggest that he did this to address the complaints he had received the previous year for his The Clouds which was a more erudite comedy which he felt was viewed unfavorably by the public because they didn't understand it. In short, he tried to do something intelligent and nobody liked it, so he did something stupid to teach them a lesson.

I find it hard to ignore Aristophanes in considering Suda 51, the man who is largely responsible for both No More Heroes and Killer 7 which preceded it. Killer 7 is moody and strange, with haunting laughter and confusing dialog which slowly unravels a fairly interesting plot (I read the synopsis). The gameplay consists of something like an FPS on rails with light adventure game motifs. He blended, in other words, three genres together, two of which are all but dead. Kudos, and all that, but when a story takes two viewings to properly appreciate, it might be wise to make the game fun to play.

Suda apparently heard the complaints which I echo above and created No More Heroes, and it's 422 BC all over again. The plot is straightforward, there's no real reason why you wouldn't be able to understand it in one go, and the game, instead of relying on genres that people don't like any more, mixes a bunch of things that people DO like. There's a city in which to drive around, which will appeal to the Grand Theft Auto types, a lightsaber (well, for all intents and purposes) for the Star Wars people, customizable clothing for...I don't know, the Sims people? The WoW people? Maybe that has a broad enough appeal to be for almost everyone. There are fake anime references for anime types. There are mini-games for people who can't seem to get their dick out of the Wii, and of course, dismembering people who bleed gallons and gallons of blood. Suda thinks we're too stupid to play a unique game so he puts everything we already like onto a disc to shut us up.

Or at least that's my theory. I don't know for a fact that he is essentially flipping us the bird with this game, but I suspect it might be the case.


I enjoy stories about horse related injuries. In 1995 when superman fell off a horse and so became paralyzed from the neck-down I found this to be a reassuring, comforting story. Today the story of Shannon Bloomfield, a 12 year old olympic hopeful who was crushed to death by a horse again filled me with this sense of comfort and reassurance. These stories justify what I think is a very sensible, well thought out, and realistic world view posed through the following question:

Why the fuck are you sitting on a horse?

I don't care about the culture significance or history to horse sitting. It's fucking stupid. What view of reality causes a person to, upon seeing a horse, think to their self, "You know what? I'm going to sit on that."

A while ago the daughter of someone in the office got married. At her wedding she wanted to ride up on a white horse because she has some form of mental retardation which makes her think movies are indicative of reality. So she gets the white horse, has the wedding outside, and ends up crying through her wedding because the horse kicked up mud all over her dress. Because that is what happens when you sit on a horse and the horse walks through mud, dipshit.

I can understand the romantic, idealistic motivation towards horse sitting. The idea of being alone with an animal atop a cliff looking out over the setting sun makes for a great movie poster; it nurtures that desire some have for a human to animal connection. Riding to your groom on the back of a white steed? It certainly sounds romantic.

But horses are not, in fact, for sitting. Couches are for sitting. For, among other reasons, couches are not alive, strong and easily spooked.

Yes, back in the day when people did not have cars or bicycles or, presumably, wheels they sat on horses. Yes, in fantasy stories the heroic knight will ride upon a horse, the damsel in distress will escape on horseback, and Liv Tyler, when chased by Nazgul, will employ her equestrian skills to flee.

But you have access to cars and bikes and segways. You aren't a cowboy. You aren't a knight. You aren't engaged in some deep, mystical empathic connection which transcends explanation and understanding. And you damn well aren't Liv Tyler.

I can't believe you haven't realized that by now.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

How we play.

I think it is interesting to watch people with different game philosophies interract.

Back when I played Diablo II much more than I do now I had a friend who refused to play with me. This was because I was "an asshole about it". Her words. Were she to indicate that she wanted to play an Amazon I would explain what the best type of Amazon was, why, and how to build such a character. When we quested I knew where to go and how to quickly progress through the game so that we could reach the end and grind bosses. To me this was the only sensible way to play the game. To her this was entirely not fun.

Magic: The Gathering exhibited the same problem with regard to attitudes towards gameplay. Differences in budgets, attitudes, goals, and playstyles eventually eroded our playgroups and gameplay stopped. When some players want to spend $12 on a deck and others want to spend $800 gameplay will not long survive.

Now that I'm playing WoW again (and ceaselessly talking about it) I've found another instance of gamer philosophies conflicting. Where some embrace a hard-line approach to character design and mandate that characters have certain stats, skills and gear before attempting instance X other players will embrace a wider range of possibilities and argue that there are multiple paths to any given goal.

What I would like to know is who is "correct".

I think that "correct" is found by observing the consequences of one's playstyle with regard to gameplay. Does the player's playstyle allow them to meet their objectives? Is the playstyle realistic? Is the playstyle needlessly restrictive?

If a player wants to play casually and not pursue higher quality gear or cards or units then certainly a player has this option. But would it be sensible for such a person to complain about hardships which result from that style of gameplay? Can a person reasonably maintain the view that they do not need better equipment if they constantly die? Is it nonsense for a person to state that they do not need to buy better cards if they constantly lose?

On the other side, if a player maintains the view that only class X with gear Y can do task Z is this an accurate assessment of the situation? Does a player who spends hundreds of dollars on cards or figurines somehow miss an aspect of the game? How can we tell?

How do we determine "correct"?

I tend to side with the hard-liners in these debates, if only in voice. While I may not be willing to invest the time, effort, and funds required to maximize my character, deck, or whatever I will certainly acknowledge that those who do so are persuing the game "correctly", placing their own objectives in line with the objectives displayed by the rules and structure of the game.

With regard to the "multiple paths" argument I tend to view the situation in terms of efficiency. Whose character build results in faster kills and less deaths? Whose deck building philosophy leads to the greatest number of wins? While there may be multiple paths to any given end there is certainly, within a context, a "best" path; a path which will more perfectly allow for an actualization of the desired end.

While we can always dismiss this argument by saying "It's only a game; do what you want." I think it is important to note the end of that idea: "do what you want." To do one must have a means. What we must primarily explore in this debate is how one's attitude and playstyle affects one's means.

Which playstyle allows for the best means by which one may reach a desired end?

Once we answer that we'll know who is right.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles

Faith Based Idiocy

On Tuesday President George W. Bush spoke at the Jericho Progam about his past alcoholism saying:
"I understand faith-based programs. I understand that sometimes you can find the inspiration from a higher power to solve an addiction problem."

Certainly such a statement will be inspirational to recovering heroin addicts and drug dealers, possibly the only people to whom W is inspirational anymore besides Fox News anchors. But there is a difference between inspirational and sensible. To whom does this world view make sense?

With regard to addiction, faith doesn't actually do anything. The individual is the one who stops drinking, stops taking drugs. As W said, all faith does is provide "inspiration". If an alcoholic thinks that they cannot overcome their dependency on their own the belief in a higher power can provide them with the required inspiration, motivation, and sense of not being alone to overcome their addiction on their own.

The problem, for me, is that drunk W laying sodden, inebriated, and alone on the floor actually is alone when he cries out to invisible sky daddy. Invisible Sky Daddy is just a fabrication (spoiler alert). What makes W stop drinking is not invisible sky daddy but rather W.

It's sort of like how when a child stops using training wheels a parent will hold them upright on the bike. Then as the child moves forward the parent lets go and the child, under the assumption that the parent is holding on, stays mounted on their bike. The child is fully capable of keeping the bike upright. At the onset, though, they required the illusion of assistance to assure them of their ability. Of course, in the inebriated W scenario there never was an invisible sky daddy parent figure holding the bike of sobriety; it was always only ever W.

So why bother including the fabrication of invisible sky daddy? The individual is the one who overcomes the addiction. Whence the necessity for the illusion of assistance? Why not just accept reality, deal with it, and throw the bottle away?

Because that is what actually happens regardless of what delusion one embraces along the way.

Transformers - The Movie - The Movie

So I know a lot of people really enjoyed the live-action Transformers movie, citing its "action" and its "robots" among its strong points, apparently forgetting about the interminable "stupid people talking" and "Transformers conspicuously fucking absent" scenes.

But that's all fairly well-worn territory (at least among us), so rather than continuing to harp on Bay's cloudy-as-shitty-toilet-water vision, I invite those of you who were disappointed by the movie to please enjoy, and those of you who loved the movie, to please suck it. (they both link to the same thing, but I like to pretend that I can use a link to cut two ways).

(Note that the page linked to will begin playing sound immediately upon loading, so please adjust your speakers)


Oh, it feels so damn good

Do you feel that you intolerant, racist, war mongering, opportunistic dick? Do you like it? 15%? You got less than 9/11ths of the Vote in Florida you Twin Towers Fucking Clod.

And you're just bowing out? You're not going to scream "Nine Eleven!" from the top of the highest tower in Florida claiming that it, too, shall suffer the fate of the Twin Towers as a result of your loss? You're not going to reduce more national tragedies down to bumper sticker slogans for your own personal gain? You're not going to blame the islamofascists? You're not going to fabricate some new enemy who only exists in your deranged, enfeebled mind? You're not going to pound your shriveled little cock into the minds of scared white americans everywhere and rail against Islam and how brown people are to blame for you getting your wrinkled ass kicked in the Florida Primary?

You disappoint me.

But I guess I shouldn't have expected anything more than for you to shrivel up and die at the end. After all, the only thing fueling your campaign was heaping piles of horseshit and intolerance; even the dipshits in Florida could sense that.

Which really says something.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Reality > The Onion

So you know how The Onion has those "what do you think?" sections where they use the same pictures every week and write delightful responses to questions?

It turns out that when a news organization such as MSNBC does that the responses are even funnier than what The Onion can make up.

Tom Petty Guitar Hero Super Bowl

Instead of rehearsing an elaborate stage show – complete with countless dancers, multiple songs, fireworks, and the rest – Tom Petty has decided that during Sunday’s halftime show he’ll simply play “Through the Fire and Flames” on his Nintendo Wii, and then walk off the stage.

On a cold winter morning, in the time before the light...

re: nomic

This is something to a fallup post to J's post about Nomic from november.

BoingBoing has a posted a link to a review for a game called Fluxx. It is like Nomic, only in the form of a card game.

There are a lot of things i dont understand. What i do understand is this game has a card called "Hippyism". how can you beat that?

The you in gaming.

I've been thinking about the manner in which we talk about games.

If I were to describe Mario Galaxy to someone I would say, "You push buttons, move the Wiimote around, and are bored after six minutes." Someone else would perhaps bypass the mechanical description of pushing buttons and moving the wiimote to instead concentrate on what the character does. Another person might use "you" to describe some hybrid of Mario/player so attempting to describe the situation to be such that the player was in some way a part of the game; rather than saying "mario becomes a bee" such a person would say "you become a bee".

Guitar Hero is another great example. What does "you" do in guitar hero? Press buttons? Rock out with their cock out? Employ their sense of rhythm? What is the "you" in Guitar Hero? Is there a way to determine this objectively or is it subjective?

Zero Punctuation reviews tend to use "you" fluidly. "You" can be the player, the character, or the hybrid of the character/player. In the same review "you must escort NPC X" and "you get bored and play with a yo-yo". What does it mean to use "you" in this fluid sense? What does it say about the degree to which one is engaged in the game?

Yesterday a coworker asked, "What do you do in WoW?" My reply was that you run instances to get good gear so that you can run raids to get better gear so that you can run more difficult raids to get even better gear. I described the game in terms of the pursuit of better gear via a knowledge of mob loot tables. "You" was not engaged in an epic battle for the freedom of Azeroth. Rather, "you" was the individual playing the game attempting to find better loot for the character "you" played.

Does it behoove the conversation about gaming to use "you" in this fluid sense? Is there a way to not use "you" in this manner? How would one describe a game if "you" were removed? Would that lead to an emphasis upon the separation between character and player? Does the type of game influence how one uses "you"; is the Tetris "you" different from the RPG "you" or does that depend upon the attitude one has towards the game?

What is the "you" in gaming?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Bush's Final State of the Union

Tonight is Bush's Final (!!!) State of the Union address. If you care to post your predictions in the comments they would be welcome.

My predictions:
-Two mentions of "9/11".
-Six mentions of "war on terror".
-A gross exaggeration of how helpful these stupid $600 checks will be.
-One mention of aids in Africa.
-One token mention of Darfur.
-One reminder that he has a year left in office.
-72% of the way through the speech a rabbit will wander in and Bush will scamper over to it, fall to his knees, and cuddle with the beast so crushing its neck in a very Of Mice and Men fashion.

Huckabee: A Universal Negative

So back in April of 2005 the CIA released a report which said there were no WMDs found in Iraq. This report meshed quite well with a recent study which found that Bush, aides made 935 false statements in run-up to war. Given both of these facts we now have to try and figure out what Mike Huckabee meant last thursday when he said this regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction:

My point was that, no, we didn’t find them. Did they get into Syria? Did they get into some remote area of Jordan? Did they go some other place? We don’t know. They may not have existed. But simply saying — we didn’t find them so therefore they didn’t exist — is a bit of an overreach.

I love this quote. Because it perfectly captures the mentality mentained by Huckabee, the Republican Party, and those dipshits with whom I took theology classes.

It is impossible to prove a universal negative due to how proof works; it is impossible to prove that there exist no unicorns. The reason for this is arguably the idea at which Huckabee is grasping: If we do not find X this does not mean X does not exist. The problem is that if X does not, in fact, exist the situation would be that we do not find X.

So if we look for WMDs and do not find WMDs what do we do?

One answer is to follow Huckabee and embrace Pascal's Wager. In short, Pascal's Wager says that it is better to believe in the Christian God than to not believe in the Christian God as a result of an assessment of consequences:

-God exists and you believe in God? You go to heaven.
-God exists and you do not believe in God? You go to hell.
-God does not exist and you believe in God? No hell. You're fine.
-God does not exist and you do not believe in God? No hell. You're fine.

For Huckabee and WMDs we just change a few variables:
-WMDs exist and we go to war? War justified.
-WMDs exist and we do not go to war? Oh noes! They teh blows us up!
-WMDs do not exist and we go to war? War justified. Fuck brown people.
-WMDs do not exist and we do not go to war? Who doesn't want to go to war?

So despite whether or not WMDs actually exist it is better, in Huckabee's mind, to err on the side of bombing brown people.

The most interesting part of this quote, though, is how it so perfectly captures the concept of belief in possibility. Huckabee has no proof that there are WMDs in Iraq. But he believes that there are WMDs in Iraq, he yearns for the actualization of that possibility in the same way that he years for the actualization of his invisible, unverifiable sky daddy. Since it is impossible to prove a universal negative Huckabee can forever embrace his belief in WMDs and invisible sky daddy: No one can ever prove him wrong. No matter how long we look and how many reports are filed so long as we find no WMDs, no invisible sky daddy, Huckabee will forever maintain that these things exist.

Because no one can ever prove him wrong; if we can't find any unicorns that does not mean that no unicorns exist.

The real question is why Huckabee believes in WMDs and christian invisible sky daddy but not equally unverifiable beings such as unicorns, teapots, Spagetti Monsters, and Zeus. To answer that I will leave you with a quote from Stephen F. Roberts:

"I contend we are both atheists— I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you reject all other gods, you will understand why I reject yours as well."

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Obama. Says. Words.

Obama's Victory Speech from South Carolina. Watch it.

"And as we leave this state with a new wind at our backs, and take this journey across the country we love with the message we’ve carried from the plains of Iowa to the hills of New Hampshire; from the Nevada desert to the South Carolina coast; the same message we had when we were up and when we were down – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope; and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people in three simple words:

Yes. We. Can."

To quote Mikey: "He makes me care."