The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

Meanwhile, back in Japan…

… scientists have created the world’s smallest Cup O’Noodle. Thank God.

May 30th, 2008 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments

The Cult of Doom Prophecy

Derek Lowe has a great article up about in which he discusses and extrapolates from this article by Freeman Dyson, which is in turn about global warming and modern environmentalism. You should go read those and come back here, since I’ll be discussing and extrapolating from them. You can tell Derek Lowe is awesome, since he has a baseball player named after him, and you can tell Freeman Dyson is awesome because he has a video game hero named after him. The only way you’re probably aware that I’m awesome, though, is because I told you. So I guess this will be like if Beavis and Butthead talked about Plato talking about Socrates.

I find it terribly interesting that the Al Gore plan to save the world will actually double the amount of economic damage caused by global warming. Also, I don’t think anybody is actually surprised that they Kyoto Protocol results in improvement stuck halfway between zero and none, since it’s perfectly obvious to anybody who’s actually read that thing that it’s a first-order watermelon and has a whole lot more to do with redistribution of wealth than it does with protecting the environment.

I guess I don’t really have a whole lot to add other than my typical Beavis-and-Butthead "heh heh heh" jokes, such as pointing out that Lowe’s term "the Full Albert" is fantastic and should be adopted immediately for use by everybody. I’d just like to direct my readership at a couple of intelligent, analytical arguments on a highly emotionally-charged subject by two of the smartest people writing today. And especially living and working where I do, I find great satisfaction in this statement of Lowe’s:

"I consider myself an advocate of the environment, but I think the best way to preserve it is to do more genetic engineering rather than less. Better crops will mean that we don’t have to plow up more land to feed everyone, and we won’t have to dump as many insecticides and herbicides on that land we’re using. That means that I also think the best way to preserve unspoiled spaces is to do less organic farming, and not more: organic farming, particularly the hard-core varieties, uses too much land to generate too little food, and it does so mainly to give people in wealthy countries a chance to feel good about themselves."

I couldn’t agree with him more.

May 30th, 2008 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments

Fundamentals of game design: Limiting the player

In thinking about my earlier comments in this section, I realise I’ve taken a few things for granted, and assumed that the readership would understand why I was doing what I was doing without my actually explaining it. So I’m going to take a digression into more basic principles of design to try to add some life to my earlier comments. Let’s start with when I said this:

"The attack must be successful to cool anything, as in it needs to hit a mob and do some damage (this is to prevent the situation where standing in a corner and swinging your sword between fights just replaces waiting for your magic meter to fill)."

So, wait (this is me being the Devil’s Advocate, so picture me with pointy red horns and a forked tail and possibly the darker, sinister version of a copy of all the news that’s fit to print and pertains to gays), why not just have all attacks at all times cool skills and give players the option of standing around and doing essentially nothing between fights if that’s what they want? It’s a free country, and here’s this greasy motherfucker telling me I can’t stand around and swing my sword?

Fact is, if that were allowed, it would create a situation where the optimal play is to waste time doing nothing between fights. Why is that bad? I mean, isn’t the optimal play in Final Fantasy to wander around fighting imps outside Coneria until you’re level 99? The difference is scale. Nobody but complete loons will grind to max level on the easiest mobs in an RPG because it would take goddamn years. I know — I did that once in Zelda II. But if you set up a situation where killing thirty seconds between pulls improves your situation greatly, nearly nobody will be able to resist the temptation. Who wouldn’t trade thirty seconds for full power? And, sure, if you do it once, no big deal. But over and over again? Now the impression people will take out of your game is "well, that’s kind of a neat game, but what’s with all the damn waiting?"

This is a problem inherent to all games that use a time metric for the resource system. It was a problem in Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (less so in other recent Castlevanias because they’re just really easy), it was a problem in Final Fantasy XII, and (I’ll come right out and say it!) it’s a problem in World of Warcraft (though alleviated somewhat by food and water). The fact is that waiting isn’t fun. Everybody knows that. And if you create a system that encourages waiting, then players are going to do it, just to get that edge. And you have to balance the game expecting that they’ve done that. Every encounter needs to be designed and pitched expecting the players to have full command of all their resources.

This is why it’s important sometimes to prevent the player from doing certain things. By limiting the player’s ability to do boring things, you make the game more fun. And one of my primary goals with my resource system is to make every step fun; I want using skills to be fun, and I want recharging them to be fun.

May 29th, 2008 Posted by | My secret project | no comments

I know it’s hard to believe, but the government is also assholes.

And the saga of steroids gets even zanier. At this rate, Bonds and Clemens have nothing to worry about; the government appears to be in a big hurry to pile on the bravado and pretty damn relaxed about minor things like "just cause" and "due process." Maybe they’re trying to make the prosecutors from the O.J. trial feel better about themselves.

May 28th, 2008 Posted by | Baseball, Bullshit | no comments

I know it’s hard to believe, but the Yankees are assholes

Check this out. That’s a pretty tremendous steaming heap of bullshit right there. Keep in mind next time you’re going through airport security and they’re complaining about your hair gel that you could be at Yankee Stadium being told you need to empty all the contents of your bag into another, different bag and throw your original bag away.

In other news, the Yankees also did this yesterday:

So it’s not a total loss. (Hear the whole original broadcast here, and don’t mind the idiot video. It’s the law on Youtube that if you’re posting an audio clip you need to make a piss-poor video to paste it onto.)

May 23rd, 2008 Posted by | Baseball, Bullshit | no comments

How to get my vote

I don’t normally talk about politics in this blog. This is because, quite frankly, it’s irritating when you go to some dude’s blog that’s normally about video games and Bigfoot and he wants to talk your damn ear off about whatever his wack-job political ideas are. But I’m making an exception to this rule right now because I’m going to discuss the one thing any candidate — even candidates who just happen to be horrible hell-spawned baby-strangling evil harpy bitches from Hell — can do to get my vote, and that is guarantee an absolute nationwide ban on motherfucking car alarms, punishable by death.

The reason I mention this is because some dude’s car alarm has been blaring outside my house for about an hour now and it’s driving me compeltely up the wall. For all that, I hope his car at least gets stolen. Maybe stolen and then dropped on him from an airplane.

May 22nd, 2008 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments

News update: Satan firmly in control of baseball

The Cubs just sent Felix Pie to the minors to make room for Jim Edmonds. Jim fucking Edmonds. Not only is the guy a complete asshole, he’s also washed up. And to make room for him, we had to get rid of the most entertainingly-named player of all time.

Okay, okay, fine. Second-most entertaining.

May 15th, 2008 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

I was right — it is that short

My LostWinds review is up, and — not to spoil this for anybody — the game’s only two hours long. It’s fun, though, and everything I said about it yesterday is still true today. But I’m not going to rewrite the whole damn review here in the blog post, so go read it if you want the complete dirt.

May 15th, 2008 Posted by | Games, Meta-meta | no comments

Small Man Comics: No More Heroes

Small Man Comics

May 14th, 2008 Posted by | Small Man Comics | no comments

Everyone knows it’s windy

So I’m checking out LostWinds via the brand new WiiWare platform. You know what it reminds me of? Portal.

No, I’m serious. I mean, sure, it doesn’t have any hilarious evil computers, and it doesn’t have any 1500 megawatt Aperture Science supercolliding superbuttons, and it doesn’t have any, umm, portals, but it makes me think of Portal nonetheless. Like Portal, it’s essentially a puzzle game in a different genre’s framework; where Portal was a puzzle game FPS, LostWinds is a puzzle game platformer. You run your wacky little giant-headed fairy boy around the world using the analogue stick on the nunchuck, and you fly your magic wind spirit around using the pointer. Most of what you can do in the world involves using wind powers; you blow things around in various different ways to get through any given room, much like you would (in some other game) get through various rooms by opening portals in different places.

The other way LostWinds reminds me of Portal is that it appears to be pretty damn short. I’ve only put two hours into it so far, but I’m definitely getting the impression that I’m almost done. So if what sold you on Portal was the gameplay or the shortness, you might want to take a look at LostWinds. Of course, if what you liked was the crazy computer, there’s not much here for you.

May 14th, 2008 Posted by | Games | 3 comments