Monday, January 28, 2008

I Wanna Be The Guy

Here's the deal: I wanna be The Guy. The problem is, the current Guy is a psychotic death-monger with a mind-boggling array of devious traps, all of which instantly kill you. There are also a bunch of towering bosses who will kill you dead.

For some reason, my copy of the game has stopped counting my deaths, with a current total of 230. Considering that I've only played the game for 6 hours, (sort of) that means I've died an average of once every 1.5 minutes. Before you consider how often that is, I want to make it clear that I've died much, much more than that. It's just that the game stopped keeping track. I would be surprised if my actual average lifespan was more than thirty seconds.

The following screenshot tells you a lot about the game.

  1. The game loves old Nintendo games.
  2. The game is pretty funny.
  3. If you compare Mike Tyson's size to your own, it gives a good estimation of the difficulty of the game.
I wanted to post this when I had become The Guy, but I had to be realistic, and I want to mention this before the end of this century.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Just a quick update: I am still alive and posting. Have a good day.

I want a Wii! Give me a Wii! Or at least sell one to me.

Now playing: Queen - Somebody To Love (1991 Remix)
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, January 26, 2008

An Open Letter To The Writers Of Lost

After watching the last episodes of season 3 of Lost, I believe that you may have accidentally fired your continuity director. In Season 1 of Lost, the so-called "Others" were essentially ninjas that operated in a jungle instead of 1400's urban Japan. Watching them sneak up on a camp in recent episodes reveals a striking contrast: their exaggerated "I'm creeping" posture is more humorous than effective, and they don't even try to actually sneak.

Somewhere between the first season and the most recent episodes, you seem to have picked up on the video game rules of stealth. Here's the thing: adopting a silly crouching position doesn't actually help you hide. It's just a thing video games do to make things easier on the player.


Anyway, this is one of the main reasons that I think Lost doesn't know what they're doing. The nature of the "Others" is totally inconsistent. The "Others" also irritate me because of their absurd number of skills they're supposed to be masters of: Ethan was supposed to be a skilled surgeon. He was also a jungle ninja, a masterful brawler, and a talented con man. Each of these skills is the sort of thing that takes a lifetime to master. And every single one of the "Others" is a jungle ninja and an expert fighter. They also know all the skills of a modern Urban human.

Anyway, stop it with those instant knock out punches. Unless the island is supposed to give super punch-out skills, that is.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Note: this post sorta contains Cloverfield spoilers. After seeing the movie, I'm not sure what could be spoiled, though. Have you heard the premise? Godzilla-style monster attacks city with Blair Witch camera-work? Then you know everything about the movie.

Yes, some characters die, but they are largely interchangeable, so knowing in advance who will make it and who won't doesn't really change anything. You can't "spoil" the monster: IT LOOKS SORTA LIKE GODZILLA! The fact that it has an extra pair of arms and is quite skinny isn't some radical revolution that can be "spoiled". My personal theory is that all of the secrecy on the project is just an indirect ad campaign: if it's secret, it must be good, or at least interesting.

Anyway, here's an Ultra-Summary for my fans:

Cloverfield: The Ultra-Summary

Interchangeable 18-24 year-old Middle Class College Drunkard:
Let's go over to another part of Manhattan!


A Character Dies

Repeat 7 times.

PS: There's a girl in there who reminded me of Marla Singer in Fight Club. At least Cloverfield reminded me of a good movie.

PPS: What is that monster made of? When the American military sees something that it wants dead, it dies. Period. Unless that monster's skin was made of a foot of titanium, that thing is dead.

Monday, January 21, 2008

On (Modern) War

I've been reading Carl Von Clausewitz's On War. It's a tough read, since it's written first as a book about the analysis of war, then about war itself. This means that those looking for Clausewitz's views on war will be initially frustrated. Because of this, I'd only recommend the book to a serious fan of history or war.

The book is essentially the only real attempt to make a universal, comprehensive summation of war. (In comparison, Sun Tzu's Art of War is more like a brief meditation on the subject of war.) I've been wondering why there isn't a modern version today. There is no comprehensive guidebook to modern warfare, so far as I know.

"Modern Warfare" is a difficult term. The most recent war the USA has been involved in is the Korean War. Since then, American troops haven't had the chance to exert their true power. I believe that there will be a return to "traditional" war in this century, (that is, tank movements across a countryside, artillery destruction of whole cities, and two large nations bringing their complete strength to bear against each other) and no one knows how it's going to happen. I can guarantee it won't look a whole lot like World War Two, though.

Now playing: David Bowie - Space Oddity
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Weekend Update

Just a quick reminder about recent events:

  • Mitt Romney won Michigan, perfect for those of us who want to see the brokered convention.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl has been delayed to March 9th. This sucks.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Brokered Convention

Every political fan hopes for one thing: The Brokered Convention. Here's the deal: If the parties get to the convention with no candidate holding the majority of the votes they need, then the convention is forced to go through multiple rounds of voting to determine the candidate. This, to political fans, is a fun thing.

Anyway, the odds are slim, particularly for the Democrats. To have a brokered Democratic convention, Obama and Clinton need to remain almost perfectly tied, and Edwards needs to retain his 10-15% support. As you can imagine, this is improbable for several reasons.

The Republicans do have a chance. There are three or four candidates who can rally some sort of support, and a good deal of that support is regional. Giuliani hopes to win the big states, Huckabee hopes to win the crazy states, and Romney plans to win the states that "don't count" for some reason. Anyway, if Romney wins Michigan, I could see every major candidate staying in it until the convention.

So here's my unjustified political prognostication: Obama wins the Dems, and a Republican brokered convention goes to Mccain, who dies of being older than death.

Now playing: Elton John - Pinball Wizard
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Indie Games

Within 24 hours of my previous post, I find that has assembled a list of 101 free games accessible on the internet for the past two years, and that they're on the verge of releasing another one. I guess it was silly to talk about indie games, or games made by few people, being dead or dying. If anything, modern technology has made game-making far more accessible than ever. You won't have the graphics of games that sunk tens of millions of dollars into a game, but a free game can be just as fun. And that's why you play, not for some abstract technical achievement.

Now playing: Elton John - Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
via FoxyTunes


You've probably seen Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw's reviews of popular video games. In fact, I've linked to them before. His talent and success gives me trouble: it's tough to give a review that says exactly what someone else said earlier and not feel like an idiot.

Anyway, did you know that Yahtzee has a website? Particularly, the games that he has made, basically on his own, are quite good. If you enjoy witty games in the King's Quest style, this is the man for you.

I used to think that video games had moved beyond the realm of being created by a single human being. After all, a "modern" game takes a life-time of man-hours just for the graphics and special effects. Yahtzee has made me realize that this isn't necessarily the case. An intelligent, creative person can make a good game, even though he can't necessarily make good graphics compared to a modern game.

Anyway, I've forgotten where I'm going with all this.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Super Smash Brothers Brawl

Super Smash Bros. Brawl is going to rock the house. It's the first real Wii game to have online multiplay. So far, the blog/website has revealed 24 characters, 12 new, 12 returning. The new characters includes Olimar from Pikmin, of all things. I did a little brainstorming, and the only notable Nintendo characters they haven't included are Mike Tyson (remember? Mike Tyson's Punch-Out?) and Banjo-Kazooie.

Anyway, the game looks awesome.

Now playing: The Decemberists - I Was Meant For The Stage
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Gordon Freeman Is A Jerk

I just finished Half Life: Episode 1. First of all, the deathtraps and puzzles are just as absurd as ever, and the gameplay is just as stiflingly linear.

Second of all, Gordon Freeman is a jerk, or at least hopelessly oblivious. As time passes, it becomes more and more obvious that Alyx wants to jump his bones, (even asking if there's "room for two in [his] suit") and he never says a word. She even cracks jokes, in a depressing attempt to lighten the mood, but Gordon just stares at the room vacantly.

I know that Valve made an artistic decision to never let Gordon speak, but shouldn't they avoid situations where anyone would speak? Alyx does everything but straddle Gordon's HEV suit and ask, "how do you get this thing open?" and Gordon looks like an idiot. If they want him to be silent, they should leave him in situations where it makes sense to say nothing. It's just as well, I suppose. I'm a Judith Mossman kinda guy.

It seems that everyone else on the planet has seen this one, but if you haven't, Concerned is the funniest thing about Half-Life 2 ever made.

I beat Episode 2. That was quick.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Xbox LIVE Is A Bastard

Look. It shouldn't be some diabolical riddle to discontinue a service that requires regular payments. You suck, Xbox Live. (Can anyone help me out with this?)

I figured it out, despite Microsoft's "support". The only way to cancel the account is over the phone, for no good reason. You can do anything else for your account directly through an Xbox, but you can't even cancel a subscription through a computer.

They're Back!

The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are back. It's like some cool, soothing drug has been introduced to my bloodstream. Even though they don't have the capabilities to do the really damning commentaries of the past, they still are very funny.

I guess it's something to do with the nature of group forces and cooperative behaviours, but I'm not sure why writers aren't going into any show that is willing to provide the benefits that the union is asking for. If the writers are being hired on the terms that the writer's guild wants, then they're not scabs, are they?

Also, only high-profile shows that truly need writers would return to the airwaves. This way, the writer's strike could continue for shows like Two and a Half Men while not changing anything I watch. Isn't this the best of both worlds?

Monday, January 07, 2008

News From The Monarchy

First of all: I hate monarchs and monarchy. The fact that there are still kings and queens in the world disgusts me. (I particularly hate Diana, who did almost nothing for charity, spent much more on her personal wardrobe, and died at just the wrong time, since English people were just starting to consider the idea of ending state recognition of the monarchy.)

Second of all: This is pretty funny
Now playing: Bob Dylan - Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
via FoxyTunes

Friday, January 04, 2008

Shakespeare: Love's Labours Lost

Let's be blunt: Love's Labours Lost is a bad play. The Comedy is tedious, the plot is absurdly contrived, and the "romance" is nothing more than love at first sight multiplied by four people.

In deference to fan outcry, I present to you the ultra-summary of:
Love's Labours Lost

Let's seclude ourselves from the corrupting influence of intemperance and women by isolating ourselves for three years.

Berowne: This isn't going to go well.

Audience: Well, duh.

Messenger: The Princess of another country has arrived to negotiate.

King:Don't let her inside! Girls are icky!

Every Male Lead (Including the King): I've secretly fallen in love, and will read my love note aloud to an empty room. What's this! Someone was listening! How embarrassing! Well, let's all go romance the objects of our affections.

The Female Leads: We love them, but let's jerk them around before we admit it.

They Do.

Every Character: I love you more! No, you!

Audience: (Vomiting noises)

8 down, 29 to go.
Next up: Romeo and Juliet

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Assassin's Creed

I don't think that I can really review Assassin's Creed. I'd just be parroting Yahtzee's review. (One difference: I actually enjoy the "chores" you have to do before the mission. It makes me feel like I'm controlling the mission, and that I can choose to get more or less information about my goal.) So I just have a few points to make that he didn't cover.

Unskippable cutscenes are a mortal sin. I am making this post entirely in the dialogue that cannot be skipped. It's criminal. I've beaten the game, but every time I start a new session, I have to listen to a rambling discourse on the nature of good and evil from a couple of jerks who are entirely unsympathetic.

The skill progression system is well regulated. You learn the skills at a good rate to not be overwhelmed, but always have some new tools. My one quibble is that you learn the parry move before the dodge move. The parry move basically makes the dodge obsolete.

Now that I've beaten the game, I can kill civilians without losing HP. I have to tell you, it feels awesome.