29 December 2011

FF or Civ?

“Do you prefer Final Fantasy or Civilization?” noisms asks.

I’ve played Final Fantasy X, and I found it frustrating. I’ve also played Square-Enix’s Chaos Rings, which I found similarly frustrating. Though FFX’s story at least kept me more interested than CR’s.

Civilization, on the other hand, I enjoyed a lot.

That said, I wouldn’t say that my problem with FFX was that it wasn’t Civilization.

28 December 2011

In the days before WIMP

You can look at the changes on Twitter similarly to the advent of a graphical user interface that made its debut in early-1980s computers. The design was called WIMP and stood for “windows, icons, menus and pointers.” Before WIMP, the only way to use a computer was by writing code, something most people couldn’t even comprehend.

Nick Bilton, The New York Times

This isn't just oversimplification. It is just wrong. Before windows or pointers there was “user friendly” software. There was quite a lot of it.

27 December 2011

My question about Louis C.K.’s experiment

A comedian named Louis C.K. produced his own comedy special and sold it through his web site for a low price without any copy protection or region locking or whatnot. He made a nice profit. Great story all around.

But...could he have done it if he hadn’t already made a name through the big media companies?

26 December 2011

3D again

If you want to understand how I feel about stereoscopic video, replace 2D versus 3D with...

black & white versus color

silent versus sound

monaural versus stereophonic

stereophonic versus surround sound

Yes, the things on the left side can be used to great artistic purpose, but that tends to be the exception rather than the rule. Yes, the things on the right side can be used in gimmicky ways, but most of the time they just add depth (pun intended) rather than becoming the message.

I suspect, however, that stereoscopic video will indeed turn out to be a fad yet again. Why? Simply because the fundamental technology has been around for ages and it has never made it out of the fad phase yet.

Now, there have been some recent developments. There has been some movement of some technologies towards greater practicality at the consumer level. So, I hold out some hope.

25 December 2011

The golden rule

In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. (Talmud, Shabbath 31a)

Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself. (Hadith)

This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you. (Mahabharata 5:1517)

Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. (The Buddha, Udana-Varga 5.18)

23 December 2011

Console game dialog

I got Sonic Generations for Christmas. It’s nice to have back the classic Sonic gameplay that was sorely lacking in the last couple of Sonic titles I played. Though it is going to take some getting used to it in stereoscopic 3D.

So many console games have really annoying dialog. It uses a dozen lines where three or four would have sufficed. The player has to click through it three or four words at a time. And then there’s the ones that throw in lots of pointless interjections for more pointless clicks.

Does anyone really enjoy clicking through this stuff? I enjoy the stories, but I’d enjoy them a lot more if they weren’t so poorly delivered. I used to come up with excuses for why this was handled so poorly, but these days the excuses are worn out.

So far, the biggest sin in the Sonic Generations dialog—ignoring the sin of having dialog in a Sonic game—is the pointless interjections.

22 December 2011

The difference between science and religion

Penn Jillette, via Gruber, via Kottke:

There is no god and that’s the simple truth. If every trace of any single religion died out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.

Actually, I think it is pretty clear that the basic truths—which you find repeated in nigh every religion—would reappear.

The big difficulty with religion is that it is easy to get caught up in the unimportant parts and lose sight of the important ones.

(Though, we don’t need to be putting science and faith into opposition.)

21 December 2011

CT CD surprises

Due to a mix-up, the first time I tried to order the classic Traveller CD-ROM from Far Future, I got the Traveller5 CD instead. During FFE’s December sale this year, I ordered it again. No mix-up this time. Looking through it, I found a few of unexpected surprises.

Firstly, it’s got earlier printings of some books including the 1977 versions of Books 1–3. I’d read about some of the differences therein, but this is the first time I got a look at them myself. Most interesting to me is the “Jump Routes” table from the 1977 Book 3, which was omitted in later versions of the game.

The next surprise was a classic Traveller errata compendium.

And the last surprise—so far: Special Supplement 4, Lost Rules of Traveller. The blurb on the back describes it thusly:

This special supplement examines and interpolates various Lost Rules tucked away and forgotten in various Traveller® sources, and was produced to complement the Classic Traveller Reprints from Far Future Enterprises.

It is really great that Marc has been making all this GDW stuff, as well as stuff produced by other companies under license from GDW, available.