The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

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Revenge of Steam Demos!

It’s time for everybody’s least favourite recurring feature: Steam Demo Roundup time!

Altitude: This is interesting. It’s a multiplayer side-view airplane combat game. You get a bunch of different planes and options, and you pick your dude and fly around and shoot at other dudes. There are basically the standard game modes (FFA, team deathmatch, team base defense) plus an odd like soccer mode that’s a lot less lame than regular soccer, because it has guns. It’s a pretty fun game, but it gets old a bit quickly, and the experience system is pretty grindy and unfun. Turns out you need to play a whole lot of the game before it lets you use all the planes or unlock any upgrades. Which, of course, means you’re at a sharp disadvantage to other people who’ve played more.

Hammerfight: I really wanted to like this game. I mean I really, really wanted to like this game. The controls, however, are extremely bizarre, and the play depth just isn’t there. You play this flying like pod thing, and you have a giant hammer suspended underneath you. You have to zip around and bash other flying pods with your hammer before they bash you with theirs. To get the hammer moving, though, you actually need to fly around and twirl it, since it’s not powered, and therein lies the big problem: moving and swinging your hammer are pretty much directly at odds to each other, and you need to make circular mouse motions to do either one, which you’re probably not accustomed to, and the whole thing adds up to a very large learning curve that doesn’t really have a payoff, since all you get to do is bash more flying pods.

King’s Bounty: Armored Princess: This game sure is pretty, and I kind of dig the beginning, where you get to pick out a coat of arms and stuff for your princess. But I have to be honest with you: it just kind of starts. All of a sudden, it lumps you into a tactical battle, and you have no idea what all these units are and what all your buttons do or even really what’s going on. If that’s up your alley, hey, play this game. I found it a little bit more abrupt than I really wanted to deal with, so I kind of… didn’t.

The Last Remnant: As far as I can tell, this is Final Fantasy 12 with 8% less brown. I’m serious. It’s by Square Enix and it appears to be like the exact same fucking thing. I say "appears to be" because I really didn’t play that much of it; it’s very obviously a console port, and I don’t believe it was done with much care, as the controls are downright bizarre. You play a dude who’s exactly the same as he looks, and you do stuff that’s exactly the same as the stuff you do in every Final Fantasy game. Which, if you’re me, means you search the game for the legendary "quit" button.

Risen: Ooo, moody, angst-ridden RPG / adventure hybrid. Bonus. So you play this moody dude, and you get shipwrecked on Resident Evil 4, and then you have to solve a spooky mystery, right? And the whole time you have to fight with the game’s asinine inventory system, which will not stop giving you trouble about which items you have in your hands and what you can do with them. Then you fight some really lame and boring combats using a really clunky and cumbersome interface. Then you look at a lot of brown things, a brigand dude gives you a jogging tour of the island, and then the demo ends. I’m serious — it’s like half an hour long. Way to give us a representative sample of your game, morons.

Batman: Arkham Asylum: I heard this game was really good, but, unfortunately, I found it entirely unplayable, as the designers thoughtfully neglected to provide an "invert Y axis" button, and that’s the whole ballgame right there. Basically it appears to be about punching dudes over and over and over. It’s a little bit disconcerting, because it matches the voices from the animated series with the new-style Batman movie visual design, and that messes with my head. But that’s not necessarily a flaw, mind you.

Trine: Trine is sort of an action platform puzzler, where you play a warrior, a rogue, and a wizard, and you have to jump and slash and cast your way through various boards. It’s a little bit Lost Vikings-esque in the way you switch among the three characters to get through the puzzle/platform environments. It also looks great, but it has a problem: it costs too much. I was willing to shell out ten bucks for the full version after playing the demo, but it’s twenty. And it’s not quite that good.


December 18th, 2009 Posted by | Games | no comments

Believe it or not, somebody said this

And that somebody was Kevin Kaduk.

His article has an awesome title: "The White Sox are getting the bad contract band together!" That’s a title I kind of wish I’d written, to go with the blog post I almost wrote about the amazingly bad outfield the White Sox will run with in 2010. (Seriously, they’re playing Alex Rios, Andruw Jones, and Juan Pierre out there. Holy shit. They will lose 400 games with that outfield.) But then he takes that awesome title and, underneath, writes these crazy words:

Pierre has long been a blogosphere punching bag, but it’s a decent move for Kenny Williams when you consider that he has an owner who’s crying poor when it comes to free agency and that young Gordon Beckham might have been unwillingly thrust into the leadoff spot were it not for the arrival of Pierre. He’ll give Chicago some much-needed OBP and a top-of-the-order guy who can actually steal a base.

I asked in the comments where Kevin expects Juan Pierre to get the OBP he’ll be giving to Chicago, since he certainly doesn’t have any to spare himself. He posted a fairly average .365 OBP last season, but that’s following four consecutive seasons of near-on .330. The poor, "unwilling" Gordon Beckham Kevin is lamenting about posted a .347 OBP last season, which, while not exactly good, is a damn sight better than I’d be willing to expect from Pierre.

Oh, and, by the way, Juan Pierre isn’t any good at stealing bases, either. You’d think he would be, since he’s so scrappy and fast and stuff, but actually he gets out 25% of the time, which is a bit below the break-even point. He is giving runs away on the basepaths. Carl Crawford is the man you want if you need a base stolen — he steals nearly as often as Pierre, but more successfully (82%). And then, of course, the utterly amazing and somehow underrated Carlos Beltran steals at the best success rate of anyone ever (88%).

So, the point is: Kevin Kaduk just praised Juan Pierre for things he does not do. He got owned up on in the comments, though, which is hilarious to me. Blog comment dudes knew that, Kevin. Pay attention, man.


December 17th, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Do your homework, Theo Epstein

He’s going to hit 25 homers every year. He’s an underrated offensive player.

That’s Theo Epstein talking about Mike Cameron in this article about the recent signing. Most of what Theo says is correct, but there’s an issue here.

Number of seasons Mike Cameron has played in the majors: 15
Number of seasons Mike Cameron has hit 25 or more home runs: 4

If you’d said twenty, Theo, I’d give you the benefit of the doubt; there’s an 18 and a 19 in there, but… eh. His 162-game average is 23, which does not imply that you can expect him to hit 25 homers like clockwork every single year, even assuming he’s never hurt. Which is: not safe assumption to make of a 37-year-old center fielder.


December 16th, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Happy Halladays

Worst idiotic pun title ever? Worst idiotic pun title ever.

I’m apparently the only person in the world who thinks it was completely brilliant for the Phillies to trade for Roy Halladay. I mean, sure, Cliff Lee’s a good pitcher (assuming he maintains the form he’s had the last two years and doesn’t revert), but he’s in the last year of his contract, and has made it very clear that he’s not giving his incumbent team a discount when it’s negotiation time. He’s going to test free agency for all it’s worth. Which means the Phillies will not be able to keep him.

Halladay, meanwhile, they have extended through 2013. He’s every bit as good as Lee, and makes me a little bit less nervous (since I’m always wondering if Cliff Lee is suddenly going to turn back into a pumpkin). In essence, what the Phillies traded was one year of Cliff Lee and one prospect for four years of Roy Halladay. That is the best trade ever except for when the Twins got Fransisco Liriano, Joe Nathan, and Boof Bonser from the Giants for one year of A.J. Pierzynski. How on earth are people not sure this was an awesome move on Philadelphia’s part? If anything, I question Seattle. Toronto didn’t really have the money to keep Halladay, what with everything they still owe sucky Vernon Wells, so they were kind of in a bind. They got three prospects for him, which is okay. But Seattle… Seattle traded two top prospects, and, in return, got one year of Cliff Lee. I just don’t know about that. Clearly they’re expecting the division to be weak — and they’re probably right — but it seems like a shortsighted trade for a team that’s basically still rebuilding.


December 16th, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

For fuck’s sake

Come on, SportingNews. You’re not even trying.

Year's

You can see this in the wild here, at least until they fix it. Which I’m assuming they will, since: holy shit. Are all the editors in the world on strike? How the dick did that go to press?


December 15th, 2009 Posted by | Baseball, Bullshit | no comments

Real quick here:

Every one of them has a reason to sign Holliday, who won’t be 30 until next month. Maybe even the Angels, should they lose out on John Lackey, fail to strike a deal for Roy Halladay and find nowhere else to turn, jump in.

From here. The last sentence doesn’t scan particularly well — though it’s just barely parsable — but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I just have a little quick question.

Is that really the way it works? If you need a pitcher, and you don’t get one of your top two choices, do you just say "fuck it" and sign an expensive outfielder instead? Or maybe they plan to make Holliday pitch.


December 14th, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Race-baiting

Roy S. Johnson is an idiot. He is a bad idiot who writes bad nonsense about baseball, and, apparently, about social justice also.

Some Sioux want to save their mascot, but Native American nicknames still should be banned

Banned? By whom? Good ol’ Roy S. hasn’t thought his argument out well enough to tell you. I’ll be charitable and assume he doesn’t mean "banned by law," since that’s a pretty fat first amendment violation even if you do hate the rule of law enough to assume that the commerce clause covers regulating what mascots can be called. So I guess he thinks all sports leagues everywhere should be subject to his aesthetic preferences, which is pretty stunningly self-important of him. So, in other words: welcome to a typical Roy S. Johnson article, where he speaks in monomaniacal, meaningless platitudes.

They’re almost gone, those insipid, demeaning Native American caricatures permeating sports.

Unfortunately, it looks like insipid, demeaning articles like this are here to stay.

In 2005, the NCAA told 18 colleges (two others were later added) they might be prevented from wearing their colors and displaying their logo at NCAA championship events if they did not eliminate offending logos and mascots.

That was fairly stupid, but something entirely within the NCAA’s purview. You’ll note that, unlike Roy S., they are not trying to save the world from the terrors of people not agreeing with them; they merely won’t allow, at events they run, imagery that they think will reduce their customer base. This is a sensible decision, unlike the leap of logic Roy S. makes here:

(Unfortunately, pro sports commissioners have not shown the guts to demand that owners such as Dan Snyder of the Washington Redskins or Paul Dolan of the Cleveland Indians shed franchise nicknames stuck in another era.)

I would pay good money to witness what happens when Bud Selig tells the Indians, the Braves, the Yankees, the Reds, and the Padres — all teams with names taken from various ethnic groups — that he’ll kick them out of baseball unless they change their names, logos, and mascots. That would be hilarious. So come on, Bud! Sack up and do what Roy S. wants! It’s for the good of Society, after all.

One tribe is actually fighting to save its portrayal as the mascot of the University of North Dakota. The New York Times recently chronicled the efforts of members of a Sioux tribe in the state which sued to prevent UND from dropping the name.

Can you sue a sports team to prevent it from changing its name? That’s nuts.

Why? Because it made them feel proud.

Well fuck them. Don’t those silly, funny-coloured people have enough of God’s Own Sense to know when shit’s offensive? Apparently not. Listen up, bitches, I’ll tell you what you can and can’t be proud of, because I’m Roy S. Johnson, and you know what the S stands for? Bad motherfucker.

"I am full blood and I grew up on this reservation," one 57-year-old Sioux was quoted as saying. "I have to tell you: I am very, very honored that they would use the name."

It’s so cute when minorities think they have the right to make their own decisions. Listen, Tonto, we’ll decide for you what’s offensive and what isn’t, because we’re the high-minded majority working for the good of society, and because the S stands for bad motherfucker.

Any merits or unique passions the Sioux might offer in their argument still do not justify the Neanderthal use of Native American names or likenesses as sports nicknames or mascots — use that "celebrates" entire nations with tired stereotypes. That won’t change even if the Sioux gain a victory their case.

See, I completely agree. What is with these stupid Neanderthals? Who the fuck do they think they are, liking something I find "tired?" Listen, assholes, I don’t care about your "culture" or your "heritage" — I’m just sick and goddamn tired of hearing about it. And so is all the rest of society, which is definitely a thing, and definitely has preferences.

The Fighting Sioux of UND may be portrayed in a manner the suing Sioux deem to be uplifting. But every time I see a tomahawk chop or hear a stadium roar in a faux-Indian chant or see someone ride out on the field dressed in an Native American-inspired outfit while donning "war paint," my stomach turns a bit.

"Suing Sioux" wordplay: 7/10
Level of hypocrisy added to Roy S. Johnson’s argument by using the phrase "Suing Sioux:" 6/10

For all the progress we’ve made in this nation, such trivial displays once again remind me that perhaps we haven’t come very far at all.

Things that no longer exist in this country: slavery, Jim Crow laws, seperate-but-equal, Smallpox-laden blankets, Smallpox at fucking all, Manifest Destiny, Indian wars, Trails of Tears, concentration camps.

These injustices pale in comparison to: a baseball team called the Indians.

I attended a school that years ago called itself the Indians.

(How can I work in a mention that I went to Stanford? Need to find a spot… got it!)

Yes, everyone associated with Stanford at that time was "proud" of the mascot and imagery. But saner minds prevailed long ago and now we’re a color: the Cardinal. Not the bird, for those who didn’t know (and may have wondered now that a Cardinal, Toby Gerhart, is a Heisman finalist), but the color. (Our mascot is a tree, not a crayon.)

… And that’s what I did on my summer vacation, by Roy S. Johnson, age 7.

The world did not stop spinning on its axis when the school changed its nickname.

Which it actually would if the school had not changed its nickname. That’s actually been proven by a U.N. subcommittee, and Al Gore is making a movie about it. Watch for "An Inconvenient Metaphor," coming to theatres early 2010!

Right now, we’re raising another generation that believes it’s OK to use a tomahawk chop as a rallying gesture, instead of teaching them of the truly proud people who were here before any of us and who deserve to be better remembered and celebrated.

Like the Sioux, you mean? Who you are currently arguing should not be remembered and celebrated because you’re sick of hearing about them? Okay. Just checking.

Bear in mind that, right now, we’re raising another generation that will write like Roy S. Johnson.


December 13th, 2009 Posted by | Baseball, Bullshit | no comments

That might be a little bit inappropriate

Triangular Trade

First off: no, Chone Figgins has absolutely nothing to do with the Granderson-Jackson-Scherzer trade. Normally, I’d make fun of them for that, but there’s something even more egregious in this picture. Can you spot it? Here’s a hint.

Fuck the heck, Yahoo sports?


December 9th, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Hey reviews

I actually wrote some new game reviews for a change! Crazy, right? I did Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins, and I even liked one of them! Which one could it be? Click here for the comedy shock answer!


December 7th, 2009 Posted by | Games, Meta-meta | no comments

Torture

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is done. It’s printed and ready to ship. And Nintendo will not give it to me. That’s just mean. Apparently they’re holding it back so it won’t compete with New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which has a terrible title but looks like a lot of fun.

So while we’re waiting, let’s reflect on Shigeru Miyamoto saying that Mario Galaxy 2 won’t have as deep a story as the first Mario Galaxy.

Perhaps I’m the only one, but I think "story-driven" would be the very last phrase I’d use to describe Super Mario Galaxy. I mean, it had a story? Beyond "Bowser kidnapped the princess and is trying to take over the galaxy?" I guess that dude from Wired thought it did. I thought it had those lame storybook cutscenes with the most banal children’s book of all time, but those were barely related to the game at all.

Frankly, I agree with Miyamoto. Mario doesn’t need some stupid heavy-ass plotline with a bunch of lame cutscenes. And I think this is my favourite thing anyone’s ever said:

"They always want to have these dramatic scenes where Princess Peach gets kidnapped, but I always tell them, no, it’s fine — Princess Peach likes cake, so you can just have them use cake as bait to kidnap Princess Peach, and that’s enough."


December 6th, 2009 Posted by | Games | no comments