The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

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Steam demo time again

Short reviews of the latest batch of Steam demos I’ve hacked at.

Mr Robot: I was hoping this would be an update of the classic C64 game "Mr. Robot and his Robot Factory," but it was not to be. Turns out it’s actually an isometric platform/adventure hybrid (remember Solstice? Yeah, like that) with some odd Shadowrun-y RPG combat sequences. Takes a bit of getting used to, but overall it’s pretty fun; it would be nice if some of the functions could be rebound, though, since the default bindings don’t do anything for me.

Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee: Yes, I realise this game is about ten years old, but I never played it when it came out, and it’s on Steam now. Or that’s what I thought, anyhow, but it turns out that I actually have played this game; thing is, back when I played it, it was called Prince of Persia. I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it now either. But if you’re a big fan of Prince of Persia and you’re keen to play the same game but with aliens, hey, here you go.

Sherlock Holmes: Nemesis: I don’t really know why I installed this one. It’s obviously a wordy shitty cutscene-y adventure game. True to form, I installed it, started it up, watched a few minutes of cutscenes and then started mashing the "skip scene" button (bonus points for actually including that, though) so I could get to the damn game. Then I got to the damn game and started mashing on the X in the corner of the window so I could get away from it.

Samantha Swift and the Hidden Roses of Athena: I don’t really know why I installed this one, either. I also don’t know why I liked it so much. It’s very clearly a game for kids — and not just any kids, but girl-type kids. But you know what? I had fun playing it, so screw you anyhow. It’s basically just Where’s Waldo with the occasional weird puzzle or cutscene; if you liked searching for Waldo, you’ll probably like this game. If you don’t give a rat’s ass where that dude is, don’t waste your time.

Mount and Blade: I really wanted to like this one. It seemed kind of groovy at first, and the music in the tutorial was getting me in the mood to chop some dudes up with my sword. Then I walked out of the first room, got stuck in the door, and had to spend about two minutes wiggling and jumping trying to get free. So my initial impression wasn’t so hot. Then I got to the combat part and found another interesting tidbit: the collision detection and AI are a bit wack, and mobs will tend to run over until they’re standing directly inside of you, and you can’t hit them there. They, of course, can still hit you, which, combined with the fiddly controls, makes combat twitchy and annoying more than anything else. And, since as near as I can tell, there’s nothing to do in this game except fight mobs, that’s sort of the whole ballgame right there.

Tomb Raider: Underworld: I haven’t actually played this one, but I note with some amusement that Eidos hasn’t changed much over the years. Note the part of Lara’s anatomy that they feature in the game’s logo banner on Steam. Classic.


November 8th, 2008 Posted by | Games | 2 comments

Limericks

So I joined the OEDILF, which is one of the more amusing projects I’ve run across lately. You might see my work popping up there going forward. Or you might not. It all depends on how much I do, and how much I suck. But I did want to share this one brilliant piece with you. This limerick is not mine; it was written by Chris Doyle. I just found it on the site while I was browsing around randomly and thought it was too excellent not to share.

At the airport a biker named Knievel
Hid hatchets and caused an upheaval.
A security flag
On his carry-on bag
Intercepted the axes of Evel.

(Do you have any idea how many of these posts begin with the word "so?" Neither do I. I have it on the best of authourity, however, that it’s verging on one million.)


November 7th, 2008 Posted by | Bullshit | 3 comments

Super fun happy slide!

You know me. I’m a very "up" person. Why, if you could pick just one word to describe me, it would be "positive," wouldn’t it? So it’s in this spirit of positivity and hope and radiance and no I’m not going to sing motherfucking Kumbaya so don’t push it that I’ve decided to make a list of ten things I actually like about Barack Obama. I figure, since we’ve just elected him our new emperor president, it means I’m stuck dealing with him for at least four years, so I’d better find something tolerable. Whoops, I mean, I’m sure he’ll bring lots of good change and everyone will be rich and happy and it certainly won’t be more of the same. That part before where I was being negative? That wasn’t me. It was monsters.

So here we go. Ten things I like about Barack Obama.

1) He’s not Hillary Clinton.
2) He’s sort of handsome, if you like black dudes with great big ears. And who doesn’t?
3) He wrote a book with "audacity" in the title, proving that he knows and can use fancy-lad words. Unlike, you know, some people.
4) Joe Biden — not the worst vice president in recent memory.
5) The Chicago White Sox may be a bunch of lying evil cheaters, but at least he’s not a Yankees fan!
6) His voice reminds me of Jubal Early, whch I’m not sure is actually a good thing but goddamn ten is a lot so it makes the list anyhow.
7) This picture makes it look like he’s ready to break out of the goddamn Matrix and fight some robots or whatever it is that happened in the other two Matrix movies.
8) Four years of hilarious news stories like this!
9) Saying "hilarious" reminded me of Hillary Clinton, who, I will emphasise, Barack Obama absolutely is not.
10) He did vote against the war, huh. So points for that.


November 7th, 2008 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments

Election 2008: Aftermath

I actually voted this year for the first time. Was it worth it? I dunno; define "worth." On the one hand, my vote was absolutely and completely irrelevant. On the other hand, it was also free. So I would say voting was worth exactly as much as it cost.

For every office on the ballot, I voted Libertarian if possible, and Republican if not, with one position that I wrote-in my brother for — the state ended up going Democratic in every single slot, as expected. I voted against the final tally on two out of three ballot questions — we still have state income tax, which I voted against (only a churl would suggest that perhaps the money collected by the state income tax was used to campaign in favour of maintaining it), and we banned dog racing for no particular reason, which I also voted against. On the other hand, we decriminalised marijuana, which I am overwhelmingly in favour of — I’ve never smoked pot in my life and have no plans to do so, but, seriously, it is completely fucking absurd to send people to jail for it. I’m not a big fan of civil penalties and would rather it were completely legal, but, hey, baby steps. Civil offense is better than criminal offense, and it’s a step toward finally ending the stupid war on drugs.

We also had a non-binding referendum to declare health insurance a "human right." That’s completely fucking insane, but I’m sure it passed; I haven’t actually checked, of course, because "non-binding referendum" is functionally equivalent to "meaningless box to tick."

All in all, this election season was an overwhelming win for the forces of goodness and justice if only because Hillary Clinton is not president-elect. That’s worth the price of admission right there.


November 6th, 2008 Posted by | Bullshit | one comment

What government bailouts can teach us about World of Warcraft, part II

After the bailout package was rammed through Congress — against the wishes of both congressmen who I actually like — people were shocked and amazed that the executives of the companies that had just been handed a trillion dollars of our money threw a giant celebration.

Why is it a surprise to anyone that, when a system is put in place to establish incentives for failure, failure becomes glorified? In a sense, those people and those companies "won;" I mean, hey, they got a shitload of free money, right? So the incentive to succeed — or, more to the point here, not to fail — would be… what again? This is the exact same scenario that appeared when Blizzard first implemented rewards for the losing side in a battleground. All of a sudden the "powerlosing" strat became viable, and people who actually attempted to play the battleground and actually tried to win were consistently heckled by the others for "dragging the game out" instead of just losing as quickly as possible to facilitate the accumulation of rewards. In turn, Blizzard has added system upon complicated system in an attempt to encourage people to play the game instead of sitting at the Relief Hut and waiting for the horde to win — deserter debuffs for people who go AFK, a "kick vote" system like you may find on many FPS servers, and so forth. None of this has solved the problem, which I emphasise did not exist before incentives for losing were added to the game.

Perhaps if more government officials played World of Warcraft they’d understand.


November 6th, 2008 Posted by | Bullshit, Games | 2 comments

Pennis envy

Penn & Teller was awesome. Our seats were in the second row and right in the centre, so we could Taste And Feel The Adventure. I got to meet Penn and Teller after the show, which was a pretty big deal for me since I’m basically a gibbering fanboy, and I also got the greatest souveneir of all time. More on that — plus pictures, yet! — when I get home.


November 3rd, 2008 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments

Attention: Stephen has opened the vault

That is all.


November 2nd, 2008 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments

Vegas day 2 — Making things disappear

Today was mainly composed of Mac King making people’s money disappear, which, oddly, was the same effect the poker tables had on Mrs. Darien. I did fairly well and left the table with about a 30% profit, but poor Mrs. D totally negated my valiant effort by losing what historians will later describe as “epic quantities of phat cash, y0.” Well, easy come, easy went.

In other news, the Mac King show was a blast. I heartily recommend it if you’re ever in town, but, then, I have a thing for comedy magic shows anyhow. He’s not very expensive (and Harrah’s appears to give out free tickets in extraordinary quantities) and it really is both very funny and some really excellent magic.

I’ll add some convenient courtesy links nobody will ever click on to these posts once I get home. Too much of a pain in the ass to do on the phone — almost like they didn’t design this thing for the purpose of maintaining your world-famous comedy swearing website from the comfort of your hotel room.


November 2nd, 2008 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments

Halloween

Halloween in Vegas is crazy. Half of everybody’s in costume, everybody’s drunk off his ass. From now on I’m counting every Halloween on which I don’t see a hot chick with a painted-on costume as a complete waste.


November 1st, 2008 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments