packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
Sorry for not getting around to taking about stuff. Enjoyed The Dark Knight when I saw it Saturday, but consider it overrated - worth walking/running 2.5 miles for, but not nearly the religious experience people treat it as. Also, Two-Face was so much cooler than the Joker. (Yes, I said it. So there!)

In contrast, Test Drive Unlimited on XBox 360 rocks like a hurricane. This is a game where you really can drive at 140 mph (225 km/h) for forty miles without loading, through traffic, and it's a fantastic feeling. Only underwhelming parts are (a) the character customization, which is terrifically complex for not much effect, and (b) the motorcycles, which are a little too carlike to be truly thrilling. Oh, and they clearly didn't optimize for the in-car view. In spite of those, it's awesome - A+.

Thingbits

Mar. 14th, 2008 11:11 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (one-quarter view)
  • Unfortunately, the turkey pot pi was somewhat underwhelming.
  • I'm thinking an external hard drive might be handy. LaCie is good, right? I should probably shop around a little.
  • I got XTC, Tom Petty, and Alanis Morissette CDs today!
  • Naturally, I am dismayed at Livejournal reaching new, untouched levels of idiocy by deleting the Basic Account option for new users. Like certain wise people (only with more laziness), I am honestly thinking about striking out on my own and just reading/reposting here. For the less lazy pessimistic, though: thanks to [livejournal.com profile] conuly, a update with the proper RL contact info for complaining.
  • To the guy about the IF thing: it's still rattling around in my head - expect mail soon.
  • Anybody around here play Core War or interested in starting? (Bear in mind I'm still yak shaving - do you believe that OS 10.3.9 didn't come with GCC installed? - so I won't be sending any warriors up any hills yet.)
  • Looking at the stack of lab reports that need grading, it seems my panicking skills are fully intact. Also my procrastination skills.
  • It's quarter to midnight? Okay, I gotta go to bed - ciao!
  • (P.S. Does anyone know how to fix a flaky trackpad on an iBook G4? The button keeps sticking.)

A Tangent

Feb. 13th, 2008 07:07 am
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
Okay, so I was reading [livejournal.com profile] bradhicks, and read his Kirkwood story. It's interesting stuff, of course, but what really caught my attention was not the fascinating historical and political analysis, but this introductory factual claim:

Ever play Sim City 2000 or any of its sequels? Then you may have run into a game rule that must have seemed frustrating and arbitrary to you ... but it turns out that it isn't. As documented by Joel Garreau in his far under-rated, absolutely essential 1991 book Edge City: Life on the New Frontier, this particular rule is something that was discovered empirically, when inexpensive computerized spreadsheets first started changing urban planning from its roots in art, architecture, and the humanities into what it is today: namely a science, a branch of economics. Cities all over the country were computerizing their budgets and their expenditures, and making some of this data available to the public. This gave commercial real estate developers, and politicians, and university professors a universe of raw data from which to make statistical correlations. And one of the first and still most important discoveries they made was this: residential costs money, commercial makes money, industrial breaks even.


Having played and failed at Sim City 2000, all I can say is: son of a bleep!
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
In the comments on my artist-QOTD post, [livejournal.com profile] jfs gave a good definition of art: art occurs whenever a person creates something whilst trying to evoke an emotional reaction. I was just thinking about the specifics of that - why "emotional" reaction, what kinds of reactions can/does art make, what kind of moral value should we ascribe to the methods and contexts of these reactions ... I don't know if this will be coherent, but it might be interesting interest.

I guess I'll start with Dan Brown and Myst. No - I'll start with Agatha Christie and Myst; it's wrong to snipe at works you haven't perused.

Wait - no, the point doesn't really work with Agatha Christie. I'd better just start somewhere, and let the chips fall as they may.

One purported property of Dan Brown's writing is that it makes the reader feel clever. Specifically, The Da Vinci Code is accused of making its readers feel clever by showing them stupid puzzles. Assuming "feeling clever" is an emotional reaction (not much of a stretch, I think), I point out the following:

  • Assuming it was on purpose, The Da Vinci Code is art.

  • In addition, The Da Vinci Code is successful art in the evocative1 sense, not merely in the financial sense.

  • It is being criticized for the way it evokes these feelings - its critics say it should not make the reader feel clever in this way, presumably because the reader does not earn feeling clever.


"Hey," my brain said. "What about Myst? It does take a little cleverness to solve those puzzles - isn't feeling clever justified there?"

I'm not going to divert to the obvious moral, here. (I was tempted, mind - any excuse to plug Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit is welcome.) Instead, I think we should consider where this idea of justification of art, in this earned-emotion sense, leads. Is the emotional climax of Terminator 2 justified? What about the excitement and satisfaction of a good game of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City? Or of a good performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor? Or, on a more abstract note: are we justified in evaluating these works and the reactions they evoke? Or, higher still: are we justified in rejecting such evaluations as unworthy, or unnecessary, or inappropriate?

Comments are open.

1. "Evocative of emotional reactions". Hey, I wanted something short and snappy. ^
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)

What's on your Top 5 video games list?

View other answers



Mmm - lists. Always the easy out.
And in the greatest tradition, starting from the top... )

(More details to follow - off to investigate the chess club.)
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)


From Twenty Sided.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Bumper)
Haven't posted much in the past several days – it's all because of Second Life. I'm still playing it a lot, though I've never been so careless as I was Wednesday night, and there's a lot to enjoy in it. Today, for example, I visited "The Cliffs of BonnyDoon", a pretty (though maze-like) spread of trees, walkways, and waterfalls.

...yeah, I'm kinda pathetic. But it's fun, I say!
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (challenge)
I have been entirely addicted to this thing.

One of my more successful bridges )
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Bumper)
[livejournal.com profile] nanakikun just found the secret to the Sega Genesis Sonic 2 game. Well, to the Casino level. Well, no, just for the final boss.

In that level, Dr. Eggman Robotnik flies back and forth in his ship, with a mine-dropping electric-zappy thing on the bottom. The only way to attack him is to hit him spinning from above. However, the pinball flippers they give you to jump up with are too uncontrolled.

However, the bottom of the screen has rounded corners. Thus, you can – charge-spin? Push down and hit the button, anyway – you can stand under the flippers and charge-spin, and when Dr. Wiley Robotnik stops to drop his mine, you move, roll up above him on the wall, and jump off the wall. You'll be able to hit Dr. Evil Robotnik once with this, and then run over to the other side "while he's busy feeling sorry for himself" (exact [livejournal.com profile] nanakikun quote).

Yeah, it only defeats Dr. No Robotnik in that one level. But it's a really annoying level otherwise.

There – now all you non-retrogamers can wake up again (and answer my Truth or Happiness poll).
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (RZ Ambigram)
Still adventuring – I have completed "Distress" and "Internal Vigilance", each in under two hours. I could spend some more time on either, especially "Internal Vigilance" with its claimed multiple endings, but I see no need.

Distress - Rating: 10/10 )


Internal Vigilance - Rating: 8/10 )


Anyway, that's two more decent adventures, and 10 out of 28 rated, if you include "Mix Tape" that didn't work. Next is still "Waldo's Pie", then "The Sword of Malice".
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
I've gone through four more text adventures from the 11th Annual competition – "Beyond", "Phantom: caves of the killer", "Hello sword", and "Son of a...". I also tried "Mix Tape", but it crashed.

I'm not going to review "Phantom" or "Hello sword". I didn't even play them to the end. (Were I reviewing for the real contest, I would have, but for fun? Not worth it.) Word to the wise: if you want to submit anything involving words to a contest, and spelling and typo-fixing is difficult for you, then get a friend to proofread for you.*

Anyway, "Beyond" and "Son of a...".

Beyond - Rating: 9/10 )

Son of a... - Rating: 10/10 )

Anyway, that's the news. Next on my list are "Distress", "Internal Vigilance" and "Waldo's Pie" – I'll hope for the best (and keep a weather eye on the clock, this time)!

* I'm willing, by the way. I'm not a great proofreader, but I'm a pedant, which is almost as good.
† Not that most of the competition adventures aren't 'mini' – in the official rules, judges may only rate a game based on the first two hours of play. (I, of course, am ignoring that rule.)
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (RZ Ambigram)
I played more of the interactive fiction from the 11th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition, finishing "Chancellor" and starting "Beyond". That makes "Dreary Lands", "History Repeating", and "Chancellor" played.

Both "Dreary Lands" and "History Repeating" failed to impress me. No, that is prevarication – I disliked them both. In both cases, gameplay issues were the key factor: the former suffered from typos and errors (one of which which caused an entire roomful of objects to display themselves in my inventory and on screen as "currently burning)" or something like that) and from poorly made puzzles, and the latter was caught in the "figure out what question you are supposed to ask" hole from nearly the beginning. Speech interactions with characters in text adventures are always fraught with peril for a game designer.

"Chancellor", on the other hand, was very good. At first I had been skeptical of its qualities (especially after having to resort to the hint guide to escape the introduction), but it didn't take long for the game to show its real worth. It does have speech interactions, as it happens, but they fortunately take the form of "ask about [keyword]", and I was able to deduce the proper keywords before too long. The story is surreal in a good way (and looks to have many cute fortune-cookies for the repeat player).

Right now I'm in the middle of "Beyond". I'll see how that goes.

Oh, and [livejournal.com profile] nanakikun took the train to Anthrocon this afternoon, so I'll be keeping his GameCube company for the duration. (Sorry I didn't catch you in the window with the camera, [livejournal.com profile] nanakikun! Have fun at the con!)


P.S. Oh, where I said I wouldn't go through and try all of them? I was wrong.

Hey, there's only 28....
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (RZ Ambigram)
As a few of you may know, [livejournal.com profile] ksleet has been working on a text adventure, which he is planning to submit to the 12th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition. I used to play text adventures a little, so I thought, "Hey, I should go download some entries from last years!"

Ergh. I have rediscovered everything I don't like about IF. I'm not going to go try each of these adventures again – I'll go play the numbers-1-through-whatever, see the best, and decide then whether to continue.

(On the other hand, "Chancellor" seems like it may have promise, of the ones I tried today. Of course, it placed 9.)
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Silhouette)
From [livejournal.com profile] ouroborous: Apparently, World of Warcraft is spyware. And Google confirms this.

I don't think any WoW players actually read my journal, but this is something worth advertising.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Half-Face)
Had fun. DDR machine is back to costing 75¢, but I don't mind particularly. More updates later.

</packing>!

Aug. 9th, 2005 01:39 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Half-Face)
Of course, I will check my loadout again tomorrow morning, but at the moment, everything looks good!

Things I didn't mention yesterday (because I did them today):

  • Since I am tenting with A., I have split the components of my tent into two halves of approximately equal weight. When we are doing the final loadout, I'll let A. choose a half, and take the other half for myself.
  • I forgot the suggestion (made yesterday) that we bring sandals for camp wear. Therefore, I've dumped a pair of flip-flops in.
  • I bought mixed nuts instead of peanuts.
  • I put all the clothing in plastic, and packed extra plastic.
  • I bought a really cheap flashlight because it came with a lot of (cheap) AA batteries. I'm bringing a spare pair of (non-cheap) AAs from a different container, just in case.

Now, I'm going to check the answering machine, and go play DDR downtown. See you around!

I return!

Aug. 4th, 2005 04:47 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Silhouette)
I went out to the mall alright, but I'd forgotten that those under 21 are not permitted without an accompanying adult. And I'm 20.

On the bright side, however, the (genuine!) DDR machine downtown is now fifty cents a play, down from seventy-five. I still have many tokens left.

And now, to shower!

(P.S. I did get the bedding while I was out at the mall. I will change the rabbit's cage real soon now.)
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Half-Face)
I'm heading out to the mall to play not-DDR at Dave & Busters ([livejournal.com profile] nanakikun showed me the place) and to buy rabbit bedding at Petsmart. Later!
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
It was terrific! It's too late at night to give full details, but we played several multi-way MtG free-for-alls (and I won the first!) as well as a couple one-on-one matches while the big tourneys were being completed. After that (and "that" occupied a good three or four hours), we played a bit of Super Smash Bros.: Melee until dinner. Then, after we spent a little time chatting (during which we discussed the puzzle of cutting a slit/hole in a 3-by-5 (inch) index card to leave a ring big enough to pass over the entire body), we played "Boggle" for six rounds.

That's when they gave me a ride home. After brushing my teeth and chatting with [livejournal.com profile] nankikun briefly, I wrote this entry. And now, good night.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Half-Face)
This morning, my parents left on their trip to meet my sister at summer camp. They called twice during the day to confirm they were alright – they took the train out there, and will help my sister pack her stuff, ship most of it home, and take the train home with the rest.

I will leave for a fifty-mile backpacker the morning after they get back, but that's alright.

In any case, after they left, I slept in for awhile longer before caring for my sister's rabbit and beginning my Internetting. I also took the garbage, etc. to the street and ate a bowl of cereal. However, the interesting part does not begin until nearly the afternoon, when I put a pot of water for the noodles on the stove, and opened my mom's copy of Dan Simmons's Hyperion.

Hyperion is an interesting book so far. My mom told me to expect a lot of poetry in it, and there is; it also has some truly fascinating plotlines, and interesting new ideas involved in them. I'm interested to see where it all ends up.

Incidentally, I took a shower at some point in here, and donned the new "Alaska" T-shirt I got a few days ago. Unfortunately, it is quite literally three sizes too large, but it remains a cool shirt. Maybe I'll give it to somebody sometime.

Later in the afternoon, there was a knocking at the door, and it opened to admit [livejournal.com profile] nanakikun. After a short time, (and after he ate a bit of the leftover noodles,) he invited me to play Project Gotham Racing with him. I assented.

Of course, of the five people whom I expect to read this post, I doubt more than three (including myself) will know what Project Gotham Racing is. It's a racing game. In fact, it's a racing game which bears absolutely no relation to Batman or any related stories. Instead, it features a rather nifty idea which it calls "Kudos".

Not an entirely new idea, of course. Giving people points in a driving game has been standard since the Pole Position arcade machine, and probably before. However, Project Gotham Racing gives points specifically for crazy driving – 'drifts' in corners (when the car loses traction and slides), 'air' on hills (when the car loses traction and flies), even 'two wheels' (when the car loses traction and ... leans to one side) – and it gives bonuses, sometimes big bonuses, if you do a lot of these stunts in a row. This means that the game has specific modes that are all about getting piles of Kudos. And it lets you do multiplayer ... where the win is determined by Kudos.

And that's not the best ... well, no, it is the best part. But there's another good part too, and that's the "Half Block" track.

Which is exactly what it says. Half a block. The thing is .2 miles (~3 km) around. You can finish a lap in under 20 seconds in almost any car. It's completely stupid, and yet it's absolutely terrific, because there's nothing there but turning right a lot and pressing the accelerator and brakes.

My thumb still feels funny from the last 30-lap Kudos one-on-one. I'm still grinning like an idiot.

Today's a cool day.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
From [livejournal.com profile] ksleet, here.

Apparently, Star Control II has been reinvented as a free open-source download under the name of The Ur-Quan Masters (its original name). You can download it here for Mac, Windows, or Linux.

I completely remember the first Star Control game. I really hope this is good.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] nanakikun has invited me to venture to a 'new' (in the strictly I-haven't-seen-it-before sense) DDR machine with him, and while away the middle of the day with much high-energy gaming goodness.

Now, I'm off to take a shower before we go. (Although I wonder if this is wise – past experience has indicated that I will need a shower after we come back, so taking a shower for the mere purpose of going out to do something which will result in the immediate need for another shower seems counterproductive. Hmm.) See you around!

Reprieve!

Apr. 1st, 2005 09:48 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
I just realized - my teacher pushed the deadline for email submission of the essay back a day.

That means that I'm not rushing to complete a pedestrian second-draft just in time to mail off. I'm merely carrying out a revision run to clarify my argument before I polish it for the final draft!

Incidentally - playing DDR with [livejournal.com profile] nanakikun? Totally rad! I don't think anyone else I know would even think to put $20 into the DDR box and play for two straight hours. Still better, he was sponsoring my half with that, in exchange for my bringing him lunch. I think I got the far better deal.

(By the way, for those of you who read the comments? He won.)
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
There's a pool/billiards hall in the basement of the Student Union here, and they have a DDR machine as well. Since I have a big break in my classes today, I dropped in to play a bit.

My friend Richard was there when I arrived, so I played with him. It's fun playing with someone else, especially someone with a lot of experience, because:

  1. You get to play songs that you aren't familiar with already,
  2. You get to keep playing even if you fail, as long as your friend passes,
  3. You get to banter with someone between songs.

On the downside, Doubles mode (1 player, both pads) is hard. I tried it, and lost really badly.

So, off to do my laundry!

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