Making Orwell Proud

October 31, 2008

This is my Halloween costume, which will be accompanied by a spiffy business suit. I am considering going by “Napoleon” for the night.

I broke down and bought Fallout 3 today. I am reading the instruction manual waiting for it to install, and apparently you can be a cannibal in the game. I may not do it my first game, but I definitely want to play as a horribly cannibalistic character…I think that would add some more depth to the game. I tend to play ruthlessly evil characters in Fallout. It just makes post-apocalyptic life so much easier when you throw out morals and human rights. Hell, in the original Fallout, I once spent 12 hours killing every living thing in the game, minus random encounters.

Also, for those of you who have been keeping up on your politics, Obama is having an election night party in Chicago’s Grant Park. Tickets for the event went fast, but not the mayor of Chicago is encouraging everyone to just show up anyways, and has promised that there will be plenty of room. It seems that maybe Dick Daley has decided not to take the route of blatant oppression that his father did.

Alright, Fallout 3 is done installing, and I’ve got some post-apocalyptic settlements to ravage.

Free Mod Download (Half-Life 2)
Download Battlegrounds

I was reading an article about some popular mods the other day, and wasn’t very interested in any of them. When the first entry in an article about mods is a mod enabling you to play Battlefield 2 as nothing but World of Warcraft characters, and everything else is a few years old, I tend to get bored.

One mod that caught my attention years ago, and still tends to suck me back in is Battlegrounds or BG. This is a Half-Like 1 and 2 mod that takes place during the American Revolution. The British and Americans fight to control points on the map. It’s pretty much like any team-based FPS, but guns take about 7.5 seconds to reload, and the majority of combat is done with bayonets.

This is, in my opinion, what sets BG aside from most FPS mods. Because the game relies heavily on melee combat, to really be any good at the game, you need to learn how to use a bayonet. Anybody with a mouse can point and click to shoot a person 50 feet away, but Battlegrounds has a bit of a learning curve in the fact that if you can’t melee, you don’t survive.

This mechanic presents an entirely different FPS experience, one where individual skill can easily outbalance team coordination. I have been in matches where a single person has held a capture point against 4 or 5 people, and come out unscathed. Combat in Battlegrounds is not a contest to see who can get the better shot, but usually a 1v1 test of melee skill.

I was never very good at Counterstrike or any of those shooting games, but I excelled at stabbing people in the face in Battlegrounds. My clan even won a couple of North American Championships. There are organized clans and league play in BG, and a pretty hardcore community centered around the game. There are even historical clans which get together and perform line battles using authentic military tactics for the time.

All in all, Battlegrounds is a welcome departure from your standard FPSes. It is a bit of a challenge to learn how to operate the bayonet properly, but definitely worth it. If you have Half-Life 2, or can use Half-Life 2 mods, this is arguably the best mod out there.

Barack Obama the Socialist

October 29, 2008

Really? This is what we are down to now. McCain is really scraping the bottom of the barrel here. While Obama talks about economic reform, and the real issues, both McCain and Palin continue with their mudslinging.

What if Obama is a socialist? Is that a bad thing? I mean, the whole capitalism thing isn’t exactly working out too well right now. Let’s face it, capitalism is inherently incompatible with democracy. In a real democracy, money DOES NOT equal power (Money != Power, for all you computer types out there). Real reform and change will only come when we realize this.

I thought the following Obama quote was especially humorous:

“By the end of the week, he’ll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten. I shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

Now, I am not a Democrat by any means. In fact, I disagree with a number of party policies. I feel that in this election, though, Barack Obama has really stepped up to the plate to deliver a campaign that addresses real issues instead of turning the election into some form of popularity contest. The least the GOP could do is have some respect for the electoral process and actually try to present its case…oh wait! That probably wouldn’t be very helpful for them.

The Republicans are not interested in a real campaign because they simply couldn’t win. There is very little “change” in this elections Republican ticket. The reason that the GOP cannot and will not participate in a flat out, policy-based campaign is because their policies are, for the most part, the same policies that have gotten us in trouble.

I admit, McCain is infinitely better than the Bush administration on pretty much any issue, but we are not in a position to accept a form of slight change. If our country is to ever break free of foreign energy and economic dependencies, we need to revolutionize the way our country is run. I don’t think McCain would do this, and Obama has made it clear that he intends to overhaul many things, notably healthcare.

The bottom line is that we need to significantly change the way our country is run. Instead of trying to recognize this, the GOP is simply trying to pass off legitimate reform as socialism, something that carries a heavy stigma in the US. The GOP is making a campaign of obscuring and skewing facts while the Democrats are presenting clear issues and plans. You can tell a lot about a candidate by the tactics they use to get into office, and I don’t appreciate a candidate who tries to turn his opponents policies into a socialist scare tactic.

Pattern Behavior Released

October 29, 2008

I just released Pattern Behavior, a small game that sets out to really confuse you visually as you attempt to identify patterns in a mess of different tiles. At less than 2mb, you can’t afford not to download it.

After Sarah Palin was announced as the GOP VP candidate, I, like many people with leftist tendencies, was flat out horrified that she would be one step away from the presidency. Sarah Palin RPG was supposed to be a semi-satirical game where you controlled Sarah Palin. You would get to save the world with help from John McCain and Karl Rove, etc. The game would kinda be a play on the fact that Sarah Palin was pretty much the Republican “secret weapon” against Obama…a secret weapon that for a couple of weeks revitalized the Right.

I did a few pages of storyline writing/game ideas before deciding not to work on the project.

The entire concept of choosing Palin is a bit offensive in the first place. The GOP knew they could not properly appear to endorse “change” if they had the same old white guys running for office, so they picked Palin to capitalize on the female vote. Sarah Palin doesn’t belong in world politics, and her inexperience just reinforces the the idea that she was chosen purely because she is a female.

Before Palin became the butt of pretty much every joke on SNL, there was a period where it looked like she might just bring victory to the Republicans. Any positive effect she may have had is pretty much gone now, but, at the time, she was all over every piece of media. Palin was marketed to us on a level I really don’t think any politician has before, and I really had no desire to see a video game about Sarah Palin, even if it was blatantly attacking her and her policies.

I think part of what made Palin such a big deal was the Left’s reaction to her. I’m sure many Democrats were just outright scared of her, and as a general rule of politics, the more the Left hates something, the more the Right will embrace it, and vice versa. So, because so many people on the Left actively argued against Sarah Palin so much, I think this did nothing but fuel her conservative supporters.

Fortunately, like an annoying child, Sarah Palin eventually goes away if ignored. The drop in Palin’s media coverage is not doing anything to help the GOP, and every day that goes by lessens any impact Palin may have had at all. I like to think of an alternate future where I did make Sarah Palin RPG, and a whole wave of Palin games springs up online. Perhaps I’m better off not making a Sarah Palin game, I would really hate to see her get more publicity than she has already gotten.

PS: I had planned for the game to end in Sarah Palin orally prostituting herself to various Democratic leaders in exchange for an election victory. Yeah, that’s horrible, I know, but I think it would have served as a decent metaphor.

Steal this Election

October 27, 2008

Am I just crazy?

Or am I the only one that is terribly afraid that the upcoming election will not be a democratic contest? When the people running for office are the same people that make the voting machines, I tend to get a little freaked out. I honestly wouldn’t put it behind the people in charge to rig an election, or to use invasive tactics. We are talking about trillions of dollars in money at stake, as well as the power to lead the “free world.”

In other, more important news, Fallout 3 tomorrow! I really wasn’t too hopeful until I saw a couple of ads on Hulu. Fallout 3 may turn out to be an alright game after all.

Have you ever wanted to play an old PC game only to find that you had lost/scratched your disk copy?  Or perhaps you never owned it and want to buy a copy, but the shelves at Wal-Mart are stuffed with Sims expansions. Good Old Games is here to fix that problem.

I kinda like the idea of GOG. They take a bunch of (mostly) critically acclaimed PC games from the 90s and sell them at pretty reasonable prices…usually $5.99. There are some real gems in the catalog, including, both Fallouts, both Freespaces, and Sacrifice. For every good game though, it seems to be balanced out by a lame one, like Redneck Rampage.

All games from GOG are DRM-Free, which is a big plus for me. With the amount of DRM issues alot of AAA games are experiencing these days, I’m glad to see someone do away with it. So, we have cheap, decent, DRM-Free games from GOG…everything is great, right?

My one issue with GOG lies in the whole piracy aspect of things. Yes, I have pirated games. yes, I probably will again in the future. Would I be willing to spend $6 on an old game that I could easily pirate if I knew that the developers were getting a cut of the money? Of course! the thing with GOG, though, is that they make deals with publishers to distribute old games. The Black Isle team who worked hard making Fallout the best game ever (don’t argue, just go with it) will not see any of the money from GOG.

Instead, Mr. Herve Caen, the CEO of Interplay that pretty much ran it into the ground, and killed the company, along with any hope of a decent Fallout 3, will receive that money. The GOG business model looks great at first glance, but once it’s discovered where the money is really going, it doesn’t seem quite as attractive. I do not want CEOs and publishers getting money for nothing. Developers put hard work into these games, and are not seeing a penny from them now.

Do the industry a favor and skip this one.

Sony is getting quite the track record of pissing people off. Currently, one of the most anticipated Playstation 3 games (if not THE most anticipated) is being recalled. Of course, there must be a good reason to pull a game when it is just days away from being put on the shelves, right?

Little Big Planet is being recalled because a song used in the game as background music contains a couple of lines in Arabic from the Quran, the central holy text of Islam. I believe this is a stupid move by Sony. Anyone who follows games and their interactions with society might remember a little incident between the Manchester Cathedral and Sony, in which certain people were upset by the fact that a violent game, Resistance: Fall of Man, was set in the area around Manchester Cathedral. Apparently the Manchester Cathedral area has a bit of a problem with gun violenence. Nevermind that the guns in the video game are shooting horrible creatures bent on the destruction of mankind.

With this Little Big Planet incident, and by Sony bowing to even the slightest bit of pressure, Sony is showing that it has no respect for the integrity of video games today. A real company that cared about video games as a means of expression would realize that special interest groups will pretty much always be there, complaining about, and looking for, anything that can be remotely offensive. Honestly, if the game offends you, don’t play it.

Little Big Planet is certainly not doing anything harmful. Here is a snippet from an interview with the person who created the one song in question…

Diabate’s record label, World Circuit Records, explained the context of the song in question to MTV. Apparently, ‘Tapha Niang’ is an adaptation of a traditional Malian song about a beloved hippopotamus shot by a white hunter; in the adaptation, Diabate laments the death of his young brother, using the Koran verses to “draw strength from the words of the Prophet” and overcome his grief.

That’s right…people are getting pissed off, and Sony is spending probably millions of dollars because of a dead hippo. Get a spine, Sony. I really think that any “gamer” or game enthusiast should be pretty upset with a company that would do something like this. By backing down, and trying to not have a PR battle on their hands, Sony has proven that they don’t care about about expression and art in video games. All Sony cares about is money.