Friday, February 26, 2010

Borg Queen Feasibility and Interpretations

As you might deduce from the title, this may be the nerdiest post I've ever made.

The obvious interpretation for the Borg Queen is that it's a creation of the Borg designed to coordinate and direct Borg activity. It also acts as an ambassador/negotiator with other races. In terms of drama, the Borg Queen serves as the "face" of the Borg; it's not very interesting to have a conflict with hundreds of identical faceless opponents.

Any nerd can tell you that the Borg don't need a Queen. Even if they needed the mental capabilities of the brain, the Queen could simply be a thinking drone. Billions of minds that can somehow instantly reach consensus are infinitely more valuable than any individual. And the Borg do just fine without any individual negotiator, they can converse as a hive with no difficulty.

So why the Queen? My (Non-Canonical) explanation is simple, the Borg Queen is not an intentional creation of the Borg designed to aid in operations, she is a Parasite. The Borg are like a colony of insects, and like ants and bees, they're more vulnerable from the inside than the outside. If a Borg gained the ability to send out a directive in such a way as to simulate the "hive mind" of the Borg as a whole, it would be like an insect that was being fed by an ant colony, because it was emitting appropriate pheromones. Its whim would be interpreted by Borg as the Collective's decisions. Almost immediately, we have a Queen. The Borg wouldn't be able to interpret the Queen as a threat, or an imposition. Their thoughts and actions would be dictated by the Queen in a way far more profound than any biological equivalent in our ecosystem.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dragon Age

Dragon Age is a good game.

Game may not be the best term, it's really more of an interactive story. The combat doesn't add to the game, it's just kind of annoying. If there was a Dragon Age where I could just make different dialogue options and see what happened, that'd be great. No need for all the MMORPG tactics and shenanigans, just the character and story, which are their best feature anyway. The fact that I played the game on easy, and I still had to use cheap tactics really makes me feel bad for those that used higher difficulty. What's it like having to pause the game every few seconds and manually issue commands to everyone? Doesn't that suck?

By the way, if you're interested in playing, be a mage. Mages are just better than the other roles. If mages could only cast Cone of Cold, they'd still be better than the other classes. Cone of Cold will freeze the last boss of the game, and recharges only a second later than it takes for victims to unfreeze. If you have two mages with CoC, you can lock down any monster in the game.

I'm impressed by the graphics of this game. The characters look good. This might not seem impressive, but it's a huge leap forward over the 200 varieties of ugly in The Elder Scrolls games. Also, characters will move around when they're talking, which helps you believe they're not robots. That is, except when multiple people are doing the same animation at the same time. Then they look like really creepy robots.

Conversations are very well executed. You can't just click on every single option until the problem is solved, and you have to make some tough decisions without feeling like you've been railroaded by the game's conversational options. If you had a voice actor for your own character, most of the conversations would sound like an actual conversation, bonus points for that.

Although I don't enjoy most of the combat, the magic self-interaction is often interesting. If you freeze someone, then hit them with stonefist, or crit on them, they can shatter. That's pretty cool. if you give someone magic vulnerability, then cast drain life, you steal more life. Little details like that are cool. Especially since they update your Codex when you happen upon another combination of abilities.

I'm really looking forward to Dragon Age, Da Legend Continues. I really felt the only thing the game lacked were enough places to buy DLC. Sure, there's a DLC salesman in your camp, and there's a point on your map where you can only buy DLC, and there are items in the game that do nothing unless you buy DLC, but they could do so much more. Why not have DLC for conversational options? DLC for turning characters bi-sexual? DLC reminders every time you go into a loading screen?

PS. Where's the DA fanbase? There isn't a single good guide to the game anywhere! (The gamefaqs guide is the most basic type of acceptable guide. Where's the complete analysis of every option, the text dump, the twinking guide?)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Voyager Tragedy

Star Trek: Voyager is a tragedy. Not in the classical sense of "a story where the hero is defeated by his weaknesses". It's a tragedy that it had to make so many mistakes. There's almost nothing in the show that isn't tainted with a layer of crumminess:

Very few episodes are about character. I'm not demanding that every episode be in the Lost format of revolving around a single character, but I'd like to see something about Chakotay and Tuvok in particular. In the entire series to date, (I'm in late season 6) there have been maybe two episodes about each of them. Come to think of it, essentially none of the characters get any character development. 7 of 9 and The Doctor are the only people who I'd describe as having character or character development.

The actors are generally lackluster. This isn't entirely their fault; the writers give them very little to work with. B'ellana Torrez' role went from "be an engineer" to "be a little angry". Chakotay seems to only get enough lines to fulfill contractual obligations. Tuvok gets very little to do as well. This all relates back to the previous paragraph: the show doesn't do much with character. It seems to me that a show can only lose focus on a character because it's moved to another, sacrificing development on Janeway to have an episode about Tuvok, for example. This turns out to be false. Somehow, you can have episodes that take focus away from the entire cast, giving increased attention to no one at all. I wouldn't have thought it possible before I started thinking about Voyager.

I don't know exactly when it happened, but somewhere around season five, Janeway started exhibiting Shatner-esque levels of smugness. Why is she so smug? Maybe Kate Mulgrew was just having a good time on the set. As with Kirk, her smirk becomes intolerable quickly when they're talking about something serious. (I have a feeling she constantly carries a cup of coffee because she has to do something with her hands. In the earlier seasons, she just flailed her arms around or put her hands on her hips constantly.)

There are good episodes and good ideas in Voyager, (The Year of Hell is probably the best part of the show.) but they're inevitably fumbled in one way or another. I just get the feeling that whoever was on top of the chain of command simply didn't care.

7 of 9's outfit is ridiculous too. If I could do anything to science fiction, it might be to get rid of "rational" females who wear 6 inch high heels.

TF2 Stuff

Engie Update is coming soon. I'm really looking forward to the PDQ.

I want KOTH Badlands. Is that too much to ask?

I've been playing Dragon Age. It's nice to see people emote in conversations. In Morrowind stuff, they just stare at you until the conversation is over.

Monday, February 08, 2010

TF2 Highlander

Valve Recently added Highlander mode to TF2. Oddly, it seems like all the games media are treating this as a big deal, even though Valve buried the announcement in their patch notes. Doubly odd, since the way it's implemented is no better than the system already in place in fan-created mods.

There's no system for selecting a class "preference", or arranging a trade in a means other than talking to the person you'd like to trade with. This could theoretically lead to players ending up with classes that they simply do not know how to play. That may be the explanation for why people tend to be idiots when they're in highlander games. The typical highlander game is like two children awkwardly fumbling at each other.

Despite all this, I Love Highlander. I like to think I'm good at most every class, so I don't mind being pigeonholed into the class no one else wants. (Especially since that class tends to be Medic, who gets all the points.) When you kill someone in Highlander, it has real significance. When you kill a medic, or destroy an Engie and his sentry, you have pushed through a major victory. You know that you won't just run into another sentry nest around the corner for at least thirty seconds. I wish tournaments were held on highlander format. It'd force nontraditional strategies and maneuvers. The fact that half the classes of TF2 basically don't participate in tournaments irritates me.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


People need variety. It's the source of all infidelity, and of fads. It's also the cause of technology changes that have no significance. Our forefathers lived with 10" TV screens, and it wasn't a problem, because it was new.

Ever since I started tweeting, I have difficulty filling out these blog posts.