Friday, December 28, 2007


I just added a Twitter section to my sidebar. Twitter is a sort of mini-blog where the length of each post is restricted to a maximum of 140 characters. The idea is to write tiny tidbits about your life without giving it much thought, which usually translates into more frequent posting. You can also hook up your mobile phone to Twitter and receive an SMS the minute a friend writes a new post, which explains the 140 character restriction.

Anyway, twittering seems like fun. I'll probably update my Twitter more often than my blog, so take a look to your right under "Twitter" to see what I'm doing right now.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Belated Halloween party

I was at a Halloween party this year. In fact, it was on the 9th of this month, hence "belated." Actually, given the lateness of this post, the title might as well read "Belated post about a belated Halloween party," but that's quite a mouthful.

I have a colleague at work who doesn't separate plan and execution. It usually makes for fast results, but sloppy coding. I didn't realize that this mentality carries over to his leisure time, so when I hypothetically mentioned "Halloween" and "party" in the same sentence, I was instantly a founding member of the planning committee of a Halloween themed office party. I usually don't even go to parties, and when I do I leave early, but now I not only had to co-arrange something that I had little to no experience of, I also had to stay all night to clean up afterwards. I wasn't exactly looking forward to it, but I was prepared to give it a shot just as an experiment.

The committee consisted of me, my colleague and three members of the opposite gender. We had a couple of rather boring meetings, during which I usually felt I had nothing to add, and just sat around and listened. The others decided that at least everyone in the committee should wear costumes. I was strongly opposed, so it was suggested that if you didn't wear a costume, you couldn't have any alcohol. This seemed like a perfectly adequate compromise to me, since I despise most alcoholic beverages and hadn't planned on drinking any at the party anyway.

Someone had the cool idea to show black and white horror movies on our videoconference projector, naturally muted so not to interfere with the obligatory disco music. I downloaded a few classics, and then realized that most of them tend to have drawn out dialogue that serves practically no purpose at all if you're watching without sound. Plus, it was supposed to be a Halloween party, so people would expect to see monsters on the screen, not some stuffy old men sitting around and talking. So I edited a couple of the films to make my own Halloween versions of them, leaving only the monster scenes. The Halloween cut of Plan 9 from Outer Space was roughly 10 minutes, while my cut down version of Frankenstein was 40 minutes, which I happen to believe speaks volumes about the quality of both films.

And so, the day in question arrived. It was time for my experiment to play out. This was to be my first full party, with no chance of chickening out; the complete experience.

That very morning, our CEO announced that he was being replaced. One of the ladies in our planning committee suggested that we tone down the Halloween aspect of the party. She wasn't in a very festive mood anymore, since she had apparently worked rather closely with our now former CEO; they even had adjoining offices. Still, the show must go on.

I helped hauling the booze, when suddenly there was a slightly surreal moment where another of the girls told me that she had had surgery that morning and was tired, ill and in pain, and couldn't help with the carrying, and that I could tell the others whatever I wanted. I didn't know what to make of it, and was in the middle of carrying stuff anyway, so I just kept on perplexedly. Later, she ignored her pain enough to come down to the kitchen, only to burst out in a fit about how the chips were disgusting and she didn't feel like partying, and walk off. I explained to my colleague about the surgery, since I realized her outburst must've looked like an unprovoked hissy fit. I later gleaned from conversation that he took her to McDonald's to see to her blood sugar and greatly improve her mood. He's a people person.

The planning paid off. We had a nice lounge area with the black and white classics as backdrop and conversation starter, the kitchen packed with booze and pie, and a disco corner with a quite professional sound and lights system, and a smoke machine. Add some candles and decorations, a few party hats (witch's hats of course), and you had a rather pleasant Halloweenish party mood. The soon-to-leave CEO even came by and gave us our blessing by helping himself to some chips and wishing us a good time. Our co-workers laughed at the silly black and white monsters of the silver screen, a few guests came in costume, and soon the bad news of that morning seemed forgotten.

Then, the DJ played an ABBA song. Not just any ABBA song, mind you, but Lay All your Love on Me, which I happen to think is brilliant. So I did the unthinkable. I danced. True to my word, I hadn't put on a costume and thus hadn't had anything to drink but Schweppes (which really is refreshing, thanks Frasier!), but I was still committed to my experiment and trying to get the full experience. Plus, I've always liked music, I like moving to music, and I don't have a problem doing it among other people. I just don't have the energy to go out and do it. This party was at my office, so I never actually had to go anywhere. I jumped around a little, mingled, talked -- or rather tried to hear other people over the blaring music -- and I was only a little bored.

After a while, I noticed that half of the party committee was missing, so I went looking for them. Two of the girls were sitting at their desks, talking to a few female co-workers. It became apparent that the third girl wasn't in a partying mood either. In fact, she wanted to go home and complained that she didn't like parties anyway, and that it was a mistake to be in the committee in the first place. I told her that if anyone shouldn't be in the committee, it was me. Surgery girl and I promised that we would cover for her, but she eventually decided to stay anyway, probably out of guilt.

Since talking was practically impossible with all the noise, I went back to dancing. It was fun to watch people move, and trying to match their moves. I noticed that girls who try to look cool on the dance floor actually succeed, while guys who try to look cool fail miserably. Guys, move as little as possible. Girls, do whatever the heck you want, it all looks hot. I know that should probably be common knowledge to everyone else, but then why did the guys looks like jackasses? Oh right, alcohol. Also, another word of warning. I know smoke machines are fun, and they add a lot to the mood. I was guilty of hitting that smoke release button a few times too often myself. The problem is, it's actually smoke. Smoke detectors do not see the difference between fire smoke and smoke machine smoke. They're not fire detectors, they're smoke detectors.

Intelligent readers have probably inferred by now that we set off the fire alarm. So what do we do? Turn up the volume and dance the night away, naturally. Not being under the influence, I eventually decided to check if anyone was doing anything about the alarm, since it didn't seem to be turning itself off any time soon. I had heard that the fire brigade had been called off, but still, the noise was pretty irritating. As I suspected, a few of the more responsible women at the party, including the friend of the CEO, were making calls and gaining access to the janitor's office. Content in the knowledge that three fully grown women were taking care of it and didn't seem to need any help, I made my way back to the kitchen, and only half-way there the alarm finally stopped. By that time, I was growing very bored with the situation. I decided to sit down in front of the movie screen, just zone out to the music and wait for the party to end so I could go home. Just three or four hours left now.

Suddenly, the music stopped. My plan was foiled! I went to see why, and it turned out that the CEO friend, the eldest in our party committee, didn't feel like babysitting us anymore. Toning down the party apparently hadn't worked, and no one seemed to be taking any responsibility but her, so she was calling it off completely. After we had repeatedly told them why the music had been shut off, and why they had to go home, our co-workers seemed to get it and grudgingly evacuated the premises. Thrilled, the three ladies and I cleaned up the party in record time. We actually had that kitchen cleaner than it ever was, chairs and tables back in their original places, before all the guests had fully left the office. I think we proved that party poopers can be really effective when they get the chance.

So I went home and slept. The party was kind of a bust, but I think my experiment was a success. At least I'm one experience richer.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Conversational skillz

The department where I work had some sort of team building session once, where one of the exercises involved pairing off and describing the other person. My partner said that I choose my words carefully. I think he literally said "thinks before he speaks." My boss later said that when I speak, people listen. I was surprised, because I hadn't observed the positive side of that character trait. I've only noticed that I'm good at killing conversations, or at least seriously maiming them.

The thing is, I censor myself a lot. I have a habit to only speak when I feel that I have something of worth to say, which means that I usually only speak when I know that I'm right and it has some bearing on what is being discussed at the moment. In a conversation that interests me, this might mean I state facts, clear up misconceptions and end the conversation before it had a chance to gain momentum. Cold hard facts don't make for interesting discussion. If the conversation doesn't concern something that interests me -- and they seldomly do -- then I don't speak and the conversation loses momentum due to long bouts of silence. I don't partake actively in most conversations. Lately, I've desparately tried to think of topics during those slightly awkward silences, but I find that there's not much I want to talk to anyone about. Either that, or my self-censoring has gone too far.

I'm fascinated by people who seem to have an endless supply of mildly amusing or enlightening anecdotes and topics up their sleeve. Of course, conversations with such people are very unbalanced to the point of becoming monologues on their part, because I'm either at a loss for words (or breath if they're really amusing), or busy analysing their conversational skills. I shun people who are under the false impression that they have an endless supply of highly amusing and enlightening anecdotes. I actively avoid or try to stifle such conversations, or imposed monologues, as it were.

Another problem is that I find most people to be incompetent in my areas of interest. I can't bring myself to listen to them prattle on about things that seem entirely inconsequential to me. I end up day-dreaming, analysing their body language, or thinking about why I'm not listening to them. When they do know something about something I like, they seem fixated on the subject and drone on and on, as if my life also revolved around that subject, which of course it doesn't. Sometimes I wonder if others share this feeling of incompatibility (or at least very limited and one-sided compatibility), but if they did, why would they keep approaching me and try to strike up conversations?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Freudian slip

I'm afraid this is only funny to the swedish speaking crowd. This article was only up for a few minutes -- I can only assume they took it down because of the typo -- so I just had to republish it.

Update: They put the article back up, with corrected spelling; my shared items used to look funnier.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Shared items

Have you sensed that you share my interests and sense of humour? Do you find yourself coming back to my blog, time after time, to glean more information from my tired brain? Do I update my blog too seldomly? If you answered any of those questions affirmatively, you are speaking to your computer and should probably quiet down. More importantly, you may be interested in my new feature: Shared items.

Take a look in the side bar to the right, under my silly photo. Under the heading "shared items," you'll find the latest stuff that I've found mind-tickling enough to share with you, my loyal and loving readership. There's also a special page you can visit with more items, if you click the "read more" link. You'll generally find news items or web comics that I've read and enjoyed, and offer unto you to peruse. And thus, I deftly sidestep my responsibility to update my blog with something original.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Turn it louder

Turn It Louder by jg

Any similarity to Demba Nabé aka Boundzound is purely unintentional; the drawing is just inspired by his song Louder. For the full experience, have a look at his video. =)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Amazon's Mobipocket

Joey's bagAfter lugging around 1000-page books on the subway for a few months, I've come to realize that it's not a practical solution in the long run. It's a hassle even when the weather's fine, so I'll probably give up when winter starts. The problem is that a book this big doesn't fit even inside my relatively large pockets, which means I either need to go about my daily life one-handed while fumbling with the book in the other hand, or get a bag to put it in. As much as I love and respect Joey, I don't share his love for man's bags, stylish though they may be.

Enter technology. I remembered hearing about Mobipocket, an e-book reader that runs on your phone and enables you to read books in digital format. I visited and had a shiny new book on my phone within minutes. Yes, I actually bought a book almost immediately, which is unusual seeing how stingy I can be. I boycott restaurants that I think are too expensive, and I hardly ever buy anything if I don't feel that I really need it. Thing is, I couldn't pass up their deal on Peter F. Hamilton's Night's dawn trilogy. If I'd bought those three books in paper form for the cheapest price I can find in Sweden, they'd sum up to 340 SEK. At, the entire trilogy in digital form is 79 SEK. Three e-books, cheaper than a single paper book. The price was worth it to just try out the software and see if I'd be comfortable reading on my mobile phone.

As it turns out, I kind of miss turning real paper pages, and the glare of the LCD screen can be irritating at times. However, there are just so many benefits. The weight, for one. I recently moved, first to a new town and then to a new apartment in the same town within a year. During that same year, I helped my parents move. The experience convinced me that a box full of books must be among the heaviest things on Earth. If all my books were digital, they would all fit in my pocket and weigh next to nothing. Secondly, I now always have a book handy, since I always take my phone with me wherever I go. No more sitting on the subway (or toilet) longing for something to read. Actually, now I can even pretend to do something relatively important and relevant with my phone during boring meetings when in fact I'm engrossed in an epic battle between organic starships and their mechanical counterparts. Third, as I've already mentioned, the price is right. Mobipocket has apparently been acquired by, which started out as an online bookstore and thus should have some experience in the field. Finally, as if you even needed a fourth reason, you can never lose a Mobipocket e-book since you can simply download it as many times as you want from the website. Also, e-books don't tear or get soggy, and nobody can ruin them by scribbling in them or underlining entire passages of text. Well, Mobipocket actually lets you enter notes in books, but it's purely optional and you don't have to view them, which does make it a feature as opposed to the eternal scourge of booklovers everywhere.

The only problem I have now is that I have too many books to read. My latest impulsive purchase brings me to a total of eight unread sci-fi novels. I have some catching up to do.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Pandora's Star

Tuesday, July 31

I am currently reading Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton. I'm on page 163 of 1144, which seems a ridiculous length for a novel, but it's so good I'm already one tenth in. I've decided to simply add my experiences to this post as I go along.

In a book of this size, you're bound to stumble across a curious turn of words here and there, but some of them seem intentional, such as "[...] Wilson walked along a long, meandering gravel track [...]", or when describing the layout of a starship development complex, "[t]he complex layout was simple enough." I like to think that Hamilton wrote these phrases off the top of his head, spotted the rhymes and ostensible paradoxes and amusedly decided to keep them, wondering if his readers would spot them as well. This sort of shared jokes with the reader appeals to me, because then I get to squeal "I caught them, Mr Hamilton, aren't I clever, look at meeee!" Needless to say, it's a deeply satisfying experience.

Thursday, August 16

I'm now at page 422. It took Hamilton around 200 pages to impart much the same information as the summary on the back of the book, while adding a substantial amount of detail and a secondary plotline. He sheds light on the year 2380, when the human race is organised in an Intersolar Commonwealth. Through the use of wormhole technology, it spans several solar systems, as the name implies. During these 400-odd pages he has also relatively briefly, albeit in great detail, touched upon the lives of three seemingly random inhabitants of the Commonwealth. It's a titillating technique that leaves me wondering if and how he'll reintroduce them into the main story.

During their travels, humans have chanced upon a few sentient alien races. These are casually referred to early on in the book as if we already know who they are: for example, the Silfen and the High Angel, both with such interesting names it's almost painful to have to read through nearly 300 pages until Hamilton actually starts delving deeper into who these alien races are. I have to say, this book is definitely not for the inexperienced or impatient reader, but having said that, it's consistently well written and never dull.

Monday, August 27

Page 562, and still no end in sight... Sorry, for a moment there I imagined dedicating a blog solely to a page-by-page report on my arduous progress through this book. I quickly abandoned the idea, as my progress isn't arduous at all. By mid-book, famous police investigator Paula Myo solves a case, one of the seemingly ephemeral characters I mentioned earlier has been fleshed out and given a very foreboding plot, and finally a specially built starship, the Second Chance, sets off towards the titular star of the book. There's a substantial change of pace at this point as Hamilton exclusively reserves a whole chapter for describing the journey of the Second Chance and its thrilling encounters with alien technology. The story-telling is more focused, and the book subsequently becomes a real page-turner. I'd say the pacing is flawless; I'm at the first peak of the rollercoaster, and I just hit the point of no return. I'm glad I held out -- a normal-length book would be over by now.

Wednesday, August 29

I've only read a couple of pages since the last update, but I just wanted to hypothesize about the alien encounter in the middle of the book, and the reason their civilisation seems unexplainable to the crew of the Second Chance.

Click to view spoiler

Tuesday, September 11

Current page is 735. I was pleasantly surprised that one of the fleetingly mentioned characters from the first half of the book was reintroduced on page 666 and revealed to be the first-born of the head of a ridiculously rich and powerful family. The story took a break from the action and focused on political intrigue for what seemed to be a very long chapter, albeit strangely fascinating. Hamilton also adds in a loose end from the Paula Myo case in the form of the defendant's girlfriend, now broke and helpless. At this point, I was disappointed that Hamilton blatantly reused not one, but fully two concepts from his earlier novel Mindstar Rising, which rather taints the experience for me. I'm hoping he at least takes this storyline in another direction than he did in the earlier instance.

There's still a character that pops up now and then who doesn't have a clear purpose. So far, he hasn't had any impact on any of the major storylines, but he has served as an outside spectator, adding vivid detail to the Commonwealth universe. Also, one of the storylines (an exploration of the exotic worlds inhabited by the Silfen) is finally getting interesting.

Tuesday, September 25

On page 894, Hamilton returns to the outside spectator's view of the main plot. It's actually a welcome human perspective now that the Commonwealth is preparing for war, and still the politicians are thinking in terms of polls. Tension is building, and it seems like the focus of the storytelling is shifting more often, quickening the pace. As for the alien threat, it's been thoroughly explained at this point, and I was basically right. Yeah, I'm smarter than the brightest minds of the 24th century.

Monday, October 1st

Finally put aside some time to finish the book this week-end. Strangely, the side-plot involving the exploration of the Silfen worlds slowed down again, and contrasted rather heavily against the action-packed war against the alien invasion. I would have welcomed an even more focused storytelling near the end, since at times I felt that I had to trudge through some less interesting paragraphs to get to the juicy bits. Thankfully, the pacing was high and I was quickly rewarded for my perseverence. The pace revved up considerably toward the end while weaving together several plotlines, which made for a raffling finale.

It was also a rather special feeling to pass the 1000-page mark. Reading a book this long actually feels like somewhat of an accomplishment, and it was definitely good enough for me to immediately get started on the sequel, Judas Unchained, which weighs in at a hefty 1234 pages.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Best of Slashdot

I read Slashdot for comments like the one below. In case you haven't followed the digital revolution, "iTMS" is Apple's iTunes Music Store.

Amazon MP3 made my Mac snappier! by Zhe Mappel (607548)

People are always asking me, "Professor MacSnappy, why do you buy your music from iTMS?"

No one reason, I reply stroking the Van Dyke beard that looks so rakish with a black turtleneck (it has fully grown back in since that regrettable incident with the calipers, thank you for asking).

For a full analysis of my shopping habits, perhaps it is better if I quote from my ten part, 3,400-word blog post on the subject, which can be found carefully archived at my site,

"When I see a new car ad on TV and just have to 'run out' and buy the music playing in the background, there are few things I like to put in order first. You might call them 'ducks,' and say I am getting them 'in a row'--but just make sure it's a digital row, and that the ducks are all downsampled audio recordings. Ha, ha--or should I say, Quack quack!"

"One, I don't want too high a bitrate. High bitrates are known to use up A.R.S.E. (Auditory Response Synchronization Energy), a finite resource found in the resonant bones that frame the auditory canal. In layman's terms, higher bitrates wear out ears faster. You only have so much A.R.S.E. Why splurge?"

"Second, I take the 'fidelity' in high fidelity seriously. That's why I want to lock down my music as securely as a 13th century feudal lord securing his wife's genitals before he rides off to the Crusades. Doing so requires strong DRM so that my musical 'honey pots' don't end up getting 'stirred' by any other portable music players. I like knowing my songs are safe and won't be getting roughly used by a Zune on the side."

"Third, like most Americans, I don't want to pay too little. Everyone knows there's a direct relationship between price and quality. I like knowing my song has received that extra special touch of attention, even if it's just someone leaving on a light for it at Apple. Who knows? Maybe while it was waiting to be downloaded, The Steve walked by and gave it the old 'thumbs up' or even a 'peace sign'!"

"Adequately priced low-bitrate songs belted down with high-quality DRM so that they won't fall out of my iPod: yes, it's what I call a musical 'match made in heaven'--thank you, iTMS!"

Friday, September 28, 2007


In case you've missed it, Orisinal: Morning Sunshine has the cutest and most original Flash games ever. The creator, Ferry Halim, must be a genius.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Halo 3 ads

Apparently, the US is riddled with Halo 3 tie-in ads, which managed to drive multiple gamer web comic makers insane on the same day. Here's Penny Arcade's take on the situation, and here's Ctrl-Alt-Del.

Now, I usually think Penny Arcade is the funnier comic, but in this instance, when the subject matter is absolutely identical, I think CAD did a better job. However, I found the punchline weak. Why not just remove it in favour of a blank stare of pure disgust?

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CAD is the Garfield of gamer comics.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Compatibility ftw!

I got an e-mail yesterday that is probably very cryptic to people not in the know, but very informative and a source of relief to those who are looking forward to duelling Slash and Tom Morello:

Dear Customer,

GH III for Ps2 is compatible with the sg controller.

Thank you,
RedOctane Customer Service


Friday, September 07, 2007

You can safely claim that death will never happen to you, because death is not an event in your life.

Death is the ultimate non-event. Death doesn't happen to you; it unhappens everything that's ever happened to you.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


If you're a Lost or Alias fan, you may have heard of J. J. Abrams's upcoming feature film. Just like Lost, it's very mysterious; they haven't even revealed the title yet, only the release date. I can't help but be a little bit curious. The teaser opens with a going-away party, filmed with a handheld camera. It becomes apparent that a young man is leaving his home in New York to travel to Japan. Later, strange noises are heard, and we soon witness an attack on New York. The same shaky camera films people fleeing an unexplainably large explosion, one passerby screaming "It's alive!"

The parallels with Godzilla are glaringly obvious. Some kind of monster attacking a city, and even an overt reference to Japan. Although the film is said not to be a sequel or remake of any previous film, and thus is not an actual Godzilla film, could this become the American spiritual brethren of Godzilla?

Godzilla is an iconic figure. It's a monster created by nuclear testing during World War II, and thus represents the atomic warfare of the USA. An atomically mutated monster destroying Tokyo must be a very powerful image to the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and maybe a way to cope with the painful memories. That might explain the success of the Godzilla series, with 28 films to date. That might also explain why Americans weren't so hot on the 1998 US remake of Godzilla, with two planned but cancelled sequels. They simply didn't relate to the movie at all. In '98, there hadn't been an attack on US soil in modern times. Now there has.

The terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 still lingers in the collective memory of the American populace, perhaps by now dulled to a nagging fear of the unknown. I'm assuming that explains the unknown and mysterious nature of the threat in Abrams's film, the choice of handheld cameras to mirror the shocking footage of 9/11, and finally the head of the Statue of Liberty being chopped clean off her shoulders during the attack. Abrams's monster is a symbol of terrorism attacking American values. It's certainly something that Americans can relate to, and much like Adam Sandler's character in Reign Over Me playing Shadow of the Colossus to come to terms with his experience of 9/11, so may the US adopt Abrams's monster as its very own Godzilla.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Best Ad Campaign Ever

Those new Guild Wars ads are really eye-catching. Nearly a minute of googling told me that the girl is called Jora. A few minutes later, I found the fan site kit, and after fiddling about with some of the included pictures, I had exactly what I wanted: Pure Jora goodness on my desktop. I know you kids expect the Internets to give you everything real fast-like, so here, let me save you those gruelling minutes of work.

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Monday, August 06, 2007


I don't care who you are, you need to see this. Be sure to start at the first photo of LEGO Guitar Hero goodness.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Black Man

Richard K. Morgan writes gritty, no holds barred sci-fi that feels as real as a kick in the nuts, and Black Man is no exception. This novel does exactly what good sci-fi should do; start with reality, take an aspect of that to its extreme, and watch it play out to its logical conclusion, all the while telling an engaging story with believable characters and unraveling a mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat. A tall order perhaps, but as usual Morgan delivers on his promise.

That's what the blurb on the back of the book would have said if I were a famous sci-fi author. Instead, there's some high praise from Peter F. Hamilton, who shares quite a few traits with Morgan, as I've already pointed out. That's fine by me, although I still think my blurb is better and more to the point.

The black man referred to by the title of the novel, Carl Marsalis, turns out to be an african european who is genetically designed for war, a specimen of the thirteenth official variant of the human DNA, which emulates the hunters and gatherers of yesteryear. So called "13s" aren't known for their team building skills, but Marsalis grudgingly pairs up with female COLIN agent Sevgi Ertekin to track down a fellow 13 that has somehow escaped the Mars colony, crash landed on Earth, and is now on a seemingly random killing spree. As "out there" as this storyline may seem, it boils down to a surprisingly realistic mystery sprinkled with some social and religious commentary that is well worth considering. For some, Morgan's sci-fi may even be too realistic, since it doesn't really offer much in the way of escapism as it deals with racism, religion, politics and death. It's really more of a hardboiled novel, with sex, violence and the stereotypically cocky, uncaring male protagonist, although it will eventually surprise you again with depth of character and heart wrenching developments that had me sniveling in a crowded subway car, making a fool of myself.

I guess that's the trademark brilliance of Morgan's novels; they have everything.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Nothin' but a short time

I only bought the game yesterday, but I have now played through Guitar Hero: Rocks the 80s on both Medium and Hard. It's not as if I played it non-stop either; it took maybe four or five hours in total. There are only 30 songs in career mode, and no bonus songs. That kind of pissed me off, because I wanted to hear some 80s style rock from contemporary bands, maybe some Harmonix employees.

In contrast, Guitar Hero II had 40 songs in career mode and 24 bonus songs. Length-wise, Rocks the 80s really is a joke in comparison, and most of the in-game artwork consists of poor rehashes of content from Guitar Hero II. Calling it an expansion and peddling it as a full-priced game to wide-eyed Guitar Hero fans itching for their next fix is just mean. Is Activision hedging their bets by making the game just replayable enough that we'll be bored of it by the time they release Guitar Hero III (which will cost only €3 more than Rocks the 80s)? Is Harmonix pouring their souls into Rock Band, while just fulfilling some contractual obligation by completing Rocks the 80s? Probably a bit of both.

I have to admit though, a lot of the songs were really good, and some came as pleasant surprises since I made it a point not to read the track list beforehand. I got so much neck-button mashing action that I got a bit of a cramp in my left hand, and I think I'm getting the hang of hammer-ons and pull-offs. I finally noticed that those notes don't have a black outline. So thanks for the exercise, guys. Now where's the rest of the game?

Friday, July 27, 2007

I Wanna Rock

I got Guitar Hero: Rocks the 80s today. Can't wait to get home and play it! :)

UPDATE: Way too few songs. Remember how I said that the first two games were too short? It's like they wanted to prove me wrong and show me what a short game really is.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thoughts, a recap

Here are a few thoughts I've had in the past, collected and summarized for your reading pleasure.


"If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, did it make a sound?" My interpration: The tree is a symbol of life. Someone hearing it come crashing down is proof that it was alive; it's affecting its surroundings. In other words, if you live your life without changing the world, did you ever live at all?

"Your days are numbered" supposedly means that you don't have a long time left to live, but all it actually says is that each of your days has a number associated with it. So your days are countable, but so are everyone's; simply increment an integer value by 1 for each day that passes. In theory, the days don't even have to be a finite number. So if someone tells you that your days are numbered, tell them "Gee, really? Good work discovering the almanac, bozo." On the other hand, then it might turn out that your days really were a finite number.

Finally, here's a life-related saying of my own making: "Life is like a box of shit. You always know you're gonna get shit, just not which flavour."


Discrimination is inherent in democracy.

Democracy = majority rules, minority loses

No matter how much the majority might mean well, it's still a fact that whenever a majority and minority disagree, the minority is discriminated against. So "working against discrimination and towards democracy" is a contradiction in terms.


What do our pets think of lamps? Even if they don't actually think actively or cognitively or whatever, they must have some concept of lamps. When I walk into a room where my cat is sitting in the dark, and I turn on the light, what has just happened in the cat's mind?

It might think that I unblocked something. Cats and dogs understand doors pretty well, and they can grasp the fact that windows are transparent hard stuff. Maybe a lamp is a window to a light source; a window that's blockable. Now, what's a good lightsource? The sun?

So, pets might think that lamps are blockable windows to the sun. In that case, they're absolutely right. It's a great way to explain what a lamp is while using really simple terms, because all energy on the Earth originally comes from the sun.

The bigger question is whether our pets have ingeniously simple concepts for all of the unnecessarily complicated facets of our lives. I'm gonna go with "yes."

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Tony Ballantyne's Capacity has one of the best sci-fi prologues I have ever read. I bought the book solely because the first few pages read like an introductory pamphlet for people whose personality has recently been copied into processing space, a virtual reality where people from the atomic world are so accurately simulated that they garner human rights of their own as Personality Constructs. The pamphlet explains all this and more, and thus also serves as a perfect introduction for the reader, easing you into the storyline even if you do as I did and skip the first novel of the trilogy. (The first book, Recursion, wasn't available in the store so I just picked this one up.) The actual story kicks off with a cursory introduction of the main character Helen, and then her death. Suddenly the story twists around in a loop, apparently into the past, to describe a minutely different version of reality where Helen is alive, until she proceeds to meet her fate in a slightly different turn of events. This loop reiterates a few times, showing still other variations, until Judy, a kimono-clad mysterious agent of Social Care, appears out of nowhere and saves Helen.

Ballantyne's prose tickles your imagination and challenges your intellect. His vision of the future is exotic almost to the point of being completely alien, and many of his descriptions are dreamlike, almost nightmarish. There is a pervasive mood of hopelessness and inevitability, and the underlying theme seems to be that the human race cannot possibly grasp the sheer enormity of life's most important questions. The book throws a barrage of existential conundrums at the reader. The first one is on the cover: If you are copied, who is the real you? The rest are presented in dialogue and plot and elaborated upon from almost every possible angle. What does it mean to exist? Thinking? What if there are sentient robots? Identity? What if you can be copied? Reproduction? What if there are reproducing machines? The seemingly endless philosophising would get tiresome if it weren't for Ballantyne's careful pacing.

Thankfully, the book is not all about Helen and Judy's travels through Existentialism 101. Helen's story interweaves with the story of Justinian, an expert on Personality Construct psychology who has been brought to a recently colonized planet to investigate the suicides of several artificial intelligences. His dialogue with the AIs and his accompanying robot Leslie is pure genius. Sure, it contributes to shedding light on some of the existential questions raised by the parallel storyline, but it's not nearly as blatant. It lends heart to the story, and some feeling of purpose, as Justinian is the most sympathetic character in the book.

My final impression of the book was that there was no actual story, because every plot element and every piece of dialogue seemed only to present new permutations of existence and thereby elaborate upon questions of its definition, cause, effects and limits. However, a book without a story is definitely not a bad thing, especially when it's this well-written. Suffice to say that I went back and bought the other two books in the trilogy.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Thy next foe is...

I've climbed the mangy fur of a stone giant with my bare hands, hanging on for dear life as it shook and bucked with such force that my vision blurred. I've stood atop a mountain-sized creature and suddenly realized that I was far up in the clouds, circled by birds and only one step away from falling back to an earth obscured by distance, ultimately meeting my maker. I've performed death-defying leaps from one wing to the other on a flying behemoth, and nearly been swept away by the oncoming torrent of wind as it raced through the skies. I've been plunged into the depths of a murky lake while stubbornly holding on to the glistening tail of a gigantic electrified sea monster trying to drag me down into a watery grave.

Every time I am faced with another colossus, defeating it seems an impossible task. What could I possibly do that would even faze these enormous creatures? I am an ant in comparison to these insurmountable obstacles, each one a new adventure, another unique challenge. The dizzying heights, neck-breaking speeds and mortal dangers leave me sweating and shaking with exhaustion, even though I am sitting safely on this side of the screen, controlling the protagonist via a gamepad and watching the action play out before me. Because I am of course talking about a video game, namely Shadow of the Colossus for Playstation 2.

I am a severe latecomer to the world of PS2 gaming -- in fact, I only just bought the console some week ago after being mesmerized by Guitar Hero, and then recently decided to get a few cheap games. Shadow of the Colossus is more than a year old now, but it still looks good (and sometimes amazing) if you can coax some 480p action out of the PS2. Just getting my hands on the required component cables to take advantage of the higher resolution was somewhat of an adventure in itself, as most game stores nowadays only carry accessories for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii. I found PS2 component cables online, but didn't want to order accessories from some unknown web shop. I finally found an actual real-life shop that has component cables right here in Stockholm; the appropriately named psXcare. Thanks guys, now I can defeat colossi in twice the resolution!

As a side note, I was a bit ticked off at first by the sound lagging behind very noticeably in cut scenes when playing in progressive mode, but then I switched from PAL to NTSC, and now it's in sync again. Apparently, it was that age-old "timing based on hertz" problem that I thought died with the 80s.

When I first got the game, I was a bit anxious that it would be too hard for me, since I'm not much of a gamer. As it turns out, it's very forgiving, despite pitting you against otherwordly giants that would just as soon crush you underfoot as look at you. Firstly, the game only consists of two elements; finding a colossus and defeating it. That's it. Finding the next colossus involves riding across the land on your trusty steed and holding your sword up to the sun to see in which direction it focuses the sunrays; that's where you need to go. Most jumping puzzles take place during the actual felling of the colossi, and there are no other irritating enemies running about. Secondly, falling off a colossus or getting stomped on usually doesn't kill you instantly. One of the worst things that can happen is that you lose half your health and your consciousness for a while, which leaves you very vulnerable to any further attacks. However, if you can just get out of harm's way for a while, your health is automatically replenished. Of course, if your health meter is depleted, it's game over, but you don't have to load a game and ride all the way to the colossus again; you get to start over from the moment you found it.

Once again, this is what I would call soft obstacles. There is no instant failure, and every time I fall off a colossus I feel like I've discovered something new about it that might help me defeat it. Still, I'm only half way through the game and I've almost given up twice. The problem is that it's too linear. There is only one colossus to fight at any given time, hence the title of this blog post, the phrase with which every mission starts. You can easily get stuck on one colossus with no clue as to how to defeat it, or just get frustrated by how hard it is. If there had been two or three colossi to choose from, you could leave one for later and defeat a few of the others instead, thereby maintaining the flow of the game. Granted, multiple colossi might make finding them a whole lot harder. It would be slightly akin to having a compass needle that not only points north, but also towards Havana and Sofia depending on which way you're facing. Any potential solution might break the design of the game, which is elegant in its simplicity.

So while Shadow of the Colossus is not perfect, it's an extremely satisfying experience. The music is great, the colossi are awe-inspiring, and the story seems to build up to what I hope to be a heart-wrenching and memorable finish. Now if you'll excuse me, I believe I have a sand worm to slay.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tesla rocks

A tesla coil playing music, huh? Counting David Bowie's appearence as Nikola Tesla in The Prestige, this is the second time Tesla rocks. =)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Dick Dale is insane

I completed Guitar Hero II on Hard today. =)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Mindstar Rising

Like Richard K. Morgan, Peter F. Hamilton writes sci-fi and has an abbreviated middle name. And much like Morgan's first book Altered Carbon, Hamilton's first book Mindstar Rising bears a title composed of two words and tells the story of an extraordinary individual who solves a mystery. Also, both authors are British, as well as brilliant. Unfortunately (for you), it's been too long since I read Morgan's novels to crisply detail his brilliance. Luckily, I just read Hamilton's Mindstar Rising.

To keep me interested, a book should have a good mystery, believable characters in somewhat believable situations, and at least one gimmick. Take Harry Potter for example. He solves mysteries and is constantly developing as a character. The gimmick is the magic school of Hogwarts. In Mindstar Rising, Greg Mandel solves mysteries and is at times almost painfully realistic in his interaction with a series of increasingly deadly situations. His gimmick is his intuition, which has been enhanced by a military-grade neurohormone gland, lending him full-blown psychic powers that allow him to sense and even alter other's thoughts.

Not satisfied there, Hamilton adds a few other gimmicks in the same vein. Greg teams up with his old army friend Gabriel, a woman who can see into the future, and with Julia Evans, a girl with bioware implants that make her a living breathing computer, besides being the teenage heir to the most influential economic power in a communist-savaged Britain.

The brilliant part is how well Hamilton describes these abilities. Greg sees each mind as a blob of colours, seething and writhing with readily identifiable thoughts and feelings, some of them shooting out like spikes or surrounding a person's head like a halo. Gabriel sees all possible future events flowing down converging timelines into the present, a mystical forking river she refers to as "tau lines". Julia's power is similar to both Greg's and Gabriel's in that she can instantly recall and process such great amounts of information that she can foresee events with some certainty, deducing motives and playing people against each other like pawns, her mind ablaze with data coursing through logical matrices that effortlessly search and filter all possible answers until only one remains.

I also liked the pacing of the book. The first 100-or-so pages form a rather straight-forward first act where the reader is introduced to the main characters, getting a good taste of their backgrounds and personalities. It's nearly a self-contained story, having a resolved mystery and a bittersweet ending that lures you in, only for the second act to open up with a flurry of surprises, bringing you in for the kill.

Among the more interesting recurring themes are abnormality and isolation. Both Greg and Julia have a hard time relating to other people and living a normal life because of their abilities, and they are both eventually forced to come face to face with their humanity and mortality.

Well worth the money; I'm definitely reading the next two books in the Greg Mandel trilogy.

But first I have to finish Tony Ballantyne's Capacity, which I just started. Of all sci-fi books I've read thus far, Capacity easily has the best prologue. It made me smile and surprised me both with form and concepts. Here's hoping that the rest won't let me down.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I hate you, Stevie Ray

I finally completed Guitar Hero 1 on the Hard difficulty setting yesterday.

That is all.

Friday, June 01, 2007


I found this on my recently salvaged hard drive. The ASCII art is from August 2001, but it predicts the events of April 2007.

                GOD IS DEAD!                   You didn't hurt me,
                 AND NO ONE CARES!              nothing can hurt me,
            ___   ,                    \=\    ___  , you didn't hurt me,
           /  \\                        \\   /  \\     nothing can stop
          [-[-]=)                        \\ [-[-]=)      me now...
          /_   |%                         \\/_   |%
           {o} |(\                         \\{-} |(\
          ,-#//--.                         ,-`#//--.
     \=/ /        )                         \       )
      \\ /\|NIN |_|                          |NIN |_|
       \V/ |    ||                           |    ||
        V  |    ||                           |    ||
           |    ||                           |    ||
           |___'))                           |___'))
           | |  |                            | |  |
           | |  |                            | |  |
           | |  |                            | |  |
           ( |  |                            ( |  |
           | |  |                            | |  |
          _|_|__|                           _|_|__|
jg       (___(__)                          (___(__)

Spooky... Except maybe I shave better nowadays, and maybe they didn't play Ruiner.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Squeedly vs meedly

"Guitar Hero II might appear to be a game, but it's actually composed of cleverly packaged pockets of productivity-sucking awesomeness created by Satan." - Total PlayStation

Several of my workmates were inclined to question my sanity when I recently purchased the PS2 game Guitar Hero despite not owning a PS2. Since this was before playing Guitar Hero, I still had some semblance of rational thought; my plan was to play it on a PS2 that a friend had brought to the office. That day, I stayed at the office until 9 pm. I then borrowed the console for the weekend, during which I strummed and thrashed my way through the game on medium difficulty. The game makes you look silly, with its child-sized plastic guitar controller, but it really makes you feel like you're playing a real instrument, and playing well at that; I got 5 stars on most songs on the first try. The end result was that I bought Guitar Hero II as well last Tuesday, complete with another guitar so I could play with my brothers, and borrowed a PS2 indefinitely from another friend who is currently deprived of a TV to which to connect the console.

Thus began my downfall. The game harbours a ridiculous amount of fun, especially in the multi-player modes. It's entirely skill-based and chock-full of soft obstacles, which suck you into the flow of the game. It's hard to stop playing, when you can always play "just one more" song, or play a song again and again to nail those awesome solo licks. When my younger brother and one of his real-life band mates came to visit during Easter, our living room was suddenly transformed into a rehearsal studio when they decided to hone their skills on Killing in the name of, playing it maybe 15-20 times in a row.

The game is deceivingly easy to get started with if you have some rhythm perception and hand-eye coordination, and is nearly open-ended if you strive to perfect your scores on the expert difficulty. In other games, different difficulty levels do not equate replayability, at least to me, since the added difficulty doesn't add to the experience. In Guitar Hero, the higher the difficulty, the more your fingers are following the licks and riffs, and the more it feels like you're actually playing the song. Speaking of difficulty levels, the separate difficulty settings in cooperative mode is a stroke of pure genius. Now my brother, former guitar virtuoso, and his girlfriend, self-proclaimed music illiterate, can play together and thoroughly enjoy themselves.

Basically, Harmonix have done everything right. The only possible fault I can find is that the games are too short. I eagerly await Guitar Hero III and Guitar Hero: 80's edition.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Alternate reality

A game belongs to the alternate reality genre if its in-game world crosses over into the real world. That in and of itself is a rather interesting concept, although whenever I read about Majestic back when it came out, I kept thinking that it seemed like too much work. You have to interact with things in the real world to play the game, which often involves calling phone numbers or searching the web in order to reveal clues that advance the plot of the game. If you'll recall, I'm a very casual gamer. Searching for clues in video clips or painstakingly assembling stray words in background images from different websites to figure out which book they're quoted from doesn't seem very appealing to me.

Alternate reality games (ARGs) always seem to suffer from two faults: the solid wall and the deforestation. ARGs are a solid wall when they are composed of too much information/disinformation (I Love Bees) or too little information (The Lost Experience), so that you can't even see which part is a clue, or if it's even a game at all. Even if you do, you can't follow the clues if you don't spend an inordinate amount of time on them, which is hard if you have a life or a job. Most ARGs also suffer from deforestation, in that they are often being played by thousands of people simultaneously, so there is nothing new for you to discover. The web is plastered with clues and spoilers that are hard to avoid if you're actually trying to play the game. Your quiet stroll through the forest, picking your favourite flowers, has been destroyed by masses of people trampling every flower underfoot.

Like Majestic, ARGs often strive to seem real, and to make you think you're not playing a game. More often than not, you aren't. These days, ARGs are just big hype machines, utilizing the new and hip "viral marketing" concept to ingrain yet another trademark deep into your consciousness. I Love Bees was a complicated advert for Halo. The Lost Experience took it even further by endorsing Sprite, Jeep, Verizon and And now, for some reason, Nine Inch Nails has succumbed to this form of advertising with an ARG promotion of the upcoming album Year Zero.

I admit that the concept for the album is cool, but that's no thanks to the ARG. Trent Reznor wrote the concept; the ARG is just obstructing and cheapening it by in essence being a silly hype machine. I do enjoy looking at some of the websites and seeing The Presence, but I can't help but feel the deforestation syndrome. Each one of these websites is already plucked clean of every piece of information. Where's the reward in finding something that someone else has already found?

It's not all bad though. I like the "leaked" MP3s (a very bold move), and the teaser trailer. I suppose a good thing about viral marketing ARGs is that they're free, and I can choose my own level of involvement. However, in most cases my involvement is close to none.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

You can't kill the metal

So, I was listening to the soundtrack of The Pick of Destiny again the other day. When I first saw the intro to the film, the song Kickapoo, I was blown away by its comic musical stylings, the two rock legend cameos and the flawless segue into the theme of the opening sequence. I already enjoyed the brilliant musicianship, but this time I discovered something else.

In the song, young Jack Black performs a rock song of his own for his family, in which he waxes lyrically about his expletive-loaded encounter with a dragon, for which he is admonished by his staunchly religious father Meat Loaf. Of course, all of this is communicated to the audience through song. Black's song is clearly heavy metal, with a classically inspired melody and fantasy lyrics, while Loaf sings soul, with religious lyrics and a bluesy vocal. The fascinating thing is that if you listen to the vocal phrasing and chord progression, the two melodies are actually one and the same. One could easily conclude that the young Jack Black of the film has inherited his musical skills, making the scene an allegory for rock music evolving out of blues and R&B.

I've seen some negative reviews of The Pick of Destiny, and it always sounds like the reviewer was watching a whole different movie. Maybe they just weren't looking hard enough. Where some people see only fart jokes and offensive language, I see all forms of genius.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


There is no "I" in team, so the saying goes. Has anyone else noticed the problem with that? Namely, that there's no "us" in team, and no "you" or "he", "she", "it" or even "them". According to that logic, who does that leave in a team?

I guess there is "mate", if anagrams are allowed. That also leaves "eat", "meat", and "tame". Still, not much of a team.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Game design

I'm a casual gamer. I tend to get frustrated by certain types of games, and lately I've been trying to identify which aspects of games I like or dislike. Here's what I've come up with so far.

  • Easy to learn, hard to master

    If I need to go through 10 minutes of tutorials before I can understand the basic gameplay, chances are I'll turn off the game and move on. Like any entertainment, games should hook the audience. Story-wise, jump straight into the action and leave the exposition for later. Game-wise, start off with a ridiculously obvious control scheme (from the developers' point of view), hint at the unique aspects and depth of the game mechanics, and let the player delve into them later while actually playing the game.

    Good example: Prince of Persia: Sands of time does a good job of extending standard platform gaming in an interesting way.

    Bad example: EVE. I stopped playing after a good 40 minutes of just creating a character and sitting through what seemed like endless tutorials. I guess that game isn't for me. Another bad example is Prince of Persia: The two thrones, which demonstrates the other extreme in how it throws the dark prince at you and leaves you to try to figure out the control scheme on your own, on a time limit. Don't know which button to press, through some mysterious telepathic connection to the game designer? Time's up, start over.

  • Soft obstacles

    This is a term I made up for something that I want to see more of in games. Most games are basically made up of obstacles; different problems and situations that you have to get past in order to reach the goal. A hard obstacle makes that goal seem unattainable and frustrates the player. A soft obstacle doesn't stand in the way of progress. Every time you try to overcome it you either partially succeed, gain some new insight into how to overcome it, or noticeably increase your skill. You may even receive an explicit reward for trying. In other words, soft obstacles maintain a level of hope and bait you to keep playing by keeping the goal in sight. A good way to achieve soft obstacles is to have several mutually independent obstacles (i.e. parallel missions) and open-ended gameplay. Let the player take a break from the game without actually shutting it off.

    Good example: Even if I lose a race in Need for Speed: Carbon, I feel that I've honed my skills, learned the layout of the track, and come closer to unlocking another cool upgrade for my car. Another good example is Grand Theft Auto, where the open-ended gameplay allows you to blow off steam between missions.

    Bad example: A lot of adventure/quest games, where you customarily get stuck and can point-and-click your way around for several hours without even understanding the overarching goal, much less which pixel the designer wants you to find, or which inventory objects you're supposed to combine for no obvious reason in order to advance the unrelentingly linear story. Getting stuck represents absolute downtime; you're just watching the character walk around. That's not entertainment. I might as well watch my screensaver (currently set to "Blank").

  • Failure as a game mechanic

    If the player regularly sees a "game over" or "mission failed" screen and has to start over or load a saved game to complete the game, then failure is an integral part of the game mechanics. I've gone back and forth on this issue, since some games actually do this well. My conclusion is that you should be very careful with this. If you absolutely need failure, make it as non-frustrating as possible. Don't punish the player for playing within the rules of your game.

    Good example: Somehow, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory doesn't annoy me with its constant save/load cycle, and instead makes me think that I can sneak past another obstacle after the next load. Another good example are the LucasArts point-and-click adventure games, in which failure simply doesn't exist.

    Bad example: Any old Sierra quest game. In fact, I habitually refer to this kind of poor game design by simply calling the game a "Sierra game", usually with added expletives for flavour.

  • Replayability/moddability vs extensibility

    The business model of games usually aren't a deciding factor in whether I play them or not (although I really can't justify spending money on subscriptions for games that are practically void of content). As a player, I welcome open-ended gameplay because it generally softens the obstacles. However, I'm also interested in developing my own games. From a game developer's point of view, income becomes an issue if players are content with replaying old open-ended games indefinitely. If a game is infinitely replayable and moddable, it might be hard to create an incentive to buy new games. One possible solution is to sell extensions for popular franchises.

    Good example: A lot of multi-player games never get old, especially console games in 2-player cooperative mode. I recently played International Karate + with my brother on his Atari 1040 STFM for hours on end. As for extensibility, I like the Guild Wars business model, in which extensions are the only source of income. Half Life is a good example of a game that has sold extremely well thanks to a mod, in this case Counter-Strike.

    Bad example: Fable doesn't have a satisfying end, and the replayability is largely cosmetic. World of Warcraft already has a subscription fee, so selling extensions seems rather unfair.

  • Hate the player, not the game

    Win or lose, the skill of the player should be the only deciding factor. Before the days of multi-gigahertz processors, simulating real-time physics for more than one car was nearly impossible on retail hardware. Therefore, most racing games cheated and let AI cars drive around unaffected by physics. Of course, any kind of cheating frustrates the player to no end if it's discovered, and can be conjectured to be the sole reason for failure. Why would you even try to win against a game that cheats? Avoid bad interfaces or input schemes, and avoid even the impression that the game has an unfair advantage over the player. The player should never be able to blame the game for losing.

    Good example: Again, Need for Speed: Carbon.

    Bad example: Mario Party, apparently. I haven't played it.

Additionally, games should be fun, like Space Channel 5. Seriously, please make some effort and don't include "boring" in your design goals. I realize that I may have just eliminated every other word in the World of Warcraft design document. So be it.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Musical genius

Monday, January 22, 2007

"Time has not made of me a broken man, as you would seem to suspect. It has merely drained me of the energy required to hide my shortcomings. Verily, I was defective in the womb."

"How does that explain that you just killed a man?"

"That was not the explanation, but the premise of my dissertation. You do not realise the effort it took for me to masquerade as one of you. Every word I spoke was carefully sugar coated, every smile forced. In truth, my disinterest in the social world of mankind was a deep hole in my soul, nay, a vast abyss, seemingly bottomless. But you! You forced me into this world, and every word, every smile, every loathsome second filled that abyss, until it overflowed. This is but karmic retribution, the counter-force to your force."

"You're not thinking straight. Don't do this."

"And so the pendulum swings back."