a cesspool of interwebness

One of the things I'm proud of...

Posted by Mrs.CPM On 2011-02-28 4 comments

Now of course this isn't mine, and although I have many talents ( such as driving Kyro crazy) art is not one of them. People who know me well, might argue and speak of my fabulous ability to paint walls and imprint various parts of my anatomy into the still wet paint. While cool and true, that does not leave quite the same lasting impression as the talent of one Miss Leah Keeler that can be found on Deviant Art.
Leah... she was shy, and more than a little odd ( hmmm.... she would have likely fit in with some of us in high school). In a typical day she would speak to people very infrequently, but could always be seen doodling fantasy characters in her notebooks, or reading.
I knew she had been expanding her art since graduation and was quite pleased to find some of it easily on the DA website.
I understand that she is actually getting paid to create art now - one of her art pieces graces the side of a building in our town.
So this is just one of the things I'm proud of. Not for myself, I had no hand in it, but for her.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Posted by James Davie On 2011-02-25 1 comments

This new Elder Scrolls game is looking freaking unbelievable. Check out the awesome gameplay footage in this new trailer.

In related, and disturbing, news, Bethesda, the makers of the game have announced a "quest" in which if you have a child born on the release date, 11/11/11, and name your child “Dovahkiin” they'll give you some stuff. I'm sorry but no amount of stuff is worth grief that child will someday endure on the playground. Not to mention the insane amount of therapy you'll have to pay for.

Predator Musical

Posted by pseudoRequiem On 2011-02-24 4 comments

A bit slow during the repeated chorus but the Arnie voice and the content verses are great. I didn't have the guts to watch the linked Shindler's List musical...

Edit : Watched the RoboCop one though :) It was also great. Going to have to re-watch those.

Dead Island

Posted by Bairen On 2011-02-17 6 comments

If you guys have not seen this yet you need to. the new trailer for Dead Island.

Regarding Civilization and Marriage

Posted by Mike Diakuw On 2 comments

Loved the Civ review. It really made me think about running out and grabbing it. It also made me think about a piece of writing I did in 2001. It's based on many conversations on the subject of gaming which may or may not have occurred ;) Names of people and games have been omitted to protect the innocent. At the time, I didn't really have an audience that I thought would be interested in it. Perhaps I still don't. Things have changed quite a bit in the last 10 years. I know some of you will be able to relate to my ramblings.

Just a few highlights of my gaming credentials: Pong, Intellevision, Coleco, Arcades, ADAM, Amiga (500, 1200, 4000, RIP), handhelds, PC, MAME, Palm, Clie, Playstations, Cell-phone, Mac, Desktops, Laptops, Mini, iPhone... Of course, that's just the shit I've owned or obsessed over. I had friends with coco, Atari, AppleII, Sega, Nintendo, X-box... ad infinitum.

The above list is to add weight to the following;
Nothing compares to Civ!

Keep fighting the good fight.

New Super Bowl Dance

Posted by Selbonaut On 4 comments

I think I have found inspiration for my next Super Bowl dance. I am sorry that some of you were not there to see my awesome dance on that painful day that the Steelers lost. However there is always next year.

Give this a watch and let me know if I need to step up my game to compete with the big leagues found bellow.

Pareto Principle

Posted by Kyro Sk On 2011-02-16 1 comments

Pareto did only 20% of the thinking on this, but got 80% of the credit.  What an asshole.  If you've ever heard talk of the 80/20 rule, you should give the linked article a read, good stuff.

Civ 5 Review

Posted by pseudoRequiem On 2011-02-15 9 comments

Presentation : 8.5

I've the Civ games on and off since the first version was released in 1991 and when I loaded up Civ 4 for the first time, I actually quit two hours in and never touched it again. Things had become too complicated and I found each turn taking way more time that seemed necessary. After playing a bit of Civ Revolutions on 360, I was encouraged to come back to the series for version 5. I'm very happy I did. Civ 5's menu system has been vastly improved and borrows some of the menu systems created for the xbox game to streamline the whole playing process.
City screens are well organized and it's very easy to grab the basic information you need on a turn by turn basis. There are helpful hints abound so gone are the days of forgetting to start production or change your research selection. Similar to Revolutions, "Next Turn" button is overlayed with other activities that require your attention first before the next turn should be started. This system combined with the simplification of the city happiness system made getting into the game easier and allowed me to learn at my own pace while at the same time not feeling like every turn was taking an eternity.

The two biggest changes for me was the switch to hex tiles vs the square grid from previous games and the removal of combat unit stacking. The first was likely influenced by the second as hexes allow for 6 units to surround any one location on the map while grids only allowed 4 unit stacks to be able to attack directly. With combat units no longer able to stack, the combat strategy has been amped up and is a welcome change from the old way of fighting wars. Many new rules and bonuses have been implemented to support the change, such as flanking bonuses and Social Policies that allow units to give each other bonuses if they remain near one another.
An honorable mention for simplicity is the new research grid. Instead of selecting each tech to research when one is finished, you have the option to choose a tech as far down the line as you like and let the game sort out the fastest way to get to that technology. This not only saves time but makes it less likely to forget where you were attempting to go, technologically, if the game gets long.
Bottom line, much improved combat and overall management. Some things are still very complicated and/or hidden so a new player may not realize they can do certain things until their 5th or 6th play-through without taking the time to slog through the extremely large amounts of documentation. Active help in the game is of marginal usefulness as each case where you are told to do something, the purpose is never really explained well.

Graphics : 9
Much improved from older versions and the amount of hexes populated with units or resources with their continual animations is very impressive. Running on my Windows 7 machine using DirectX 11, 4Gb RAM and a 1Gb video card, I didn't notice any slowdown except on the larger maps where 30-40 other players' turns were being processed between each turn.

Attack animations are plentiful and vary enough to keep it interesting. Although, a lack of endgame animations of any kind can make a victory seem lack-luster at best. Minor gripe but it did bother me when my first win was represented by a window popping up.
For times when things are getting complicated, you also have the ability to switch to a hex grid game board representation of the map. This simplifies the view to a board game style map showing only important resources, cities and units. This is great for searching for a specific resource that is needed or just to avoid being overwhelmed by an excessively busy screen.
Sound : 9.5
As far as sound goes, Civ 5 has fairly low requirements. The attack sounds are good and have proper 'weight' to them, although you may tire of the screaming civilians when you attack a city over and over again.

The high point for sure is the customized soundtrack that is played for each leader as you play them. I loved listening to classical tunes while playing through as Elizabeth or sacrificial drums as Montezuma. I've only managed to play 4 cultures so far but each one has been spot on.

Gameplay : 8

As with all Civ games, I can't help but notice that the basic mechanics behind it are the same thing that make casual games like Farmville popular. Build something, wait for it to finish, when it's done use it's benefit to help you build more things. Wash rinse repeat. At least Civ has always had overlying long term goals and captures the best part about what is usually the actual fun part of games like Farmville. The start.

Beginning from nothing and expanding to a dominating civilization has always been the mantra and while the formula is the same, it is much harder to pull off this time around. My first 3 games were abject failures where I forgot what type of victory I was going for between days of playing. Without a good plan and focus on what your endgoal is at all times, you can lose yourself in it, playing turn after turn without any real direction. The best part is that you won't mind because playing is like having a fully animated boardgame with fun combat, strategy, resourcing, trading, diplomacy and nuclear bombs.

Overall : 8.75

Fun, re-playable and best of all, no previous knowledge required. The game guides you well and you can have lots of fun without ever knowing any rules or having goals. Easy to learn, difficult to master, addictive as hell, impossible to 100%.

Judge Jim Gray on Drug Prohibition

Posted by Selbonaut On 2011-02-14 2 comments

This video is of a Judge in the state of California talking about drug prohibition in the US. It is an interesting listen. Nothing really new, but he presents it very eloquently. The video is 8:43 long, so if you don't want to watch it all, he is in favour of legalizing marijuana. With the points that he raises, it really does make you question why it is still illegal.

siseneG by Arthur C. Clarke

Posted by James Davie On 2 comments

The end of the universe in 31 words.

via: Letters of Note

Mint your $$

Posted by James Davie On 2011-02-12 7 comments

A few years back I heard tell of a great free online money management program that integrated with your bank, investments, etc to provide you with an up-to-date picture of your finance. This handy piece of software is called Mint and, I am very pleased to tell you, it is finally available in Canada.

Mint really does make money management easy. Set-up took me about 15 minutes, and that included categorizing some of the more esoteric transactions from my chequing account. Once set up you get the nifty overview screen, seen above, that let's you know how much money you (don't) have and where you stand in relation to your monthly budgets.
Yep, you can set up budgets for practically anything, and Mint will even recommend budgets for you. It recommended, based on our spending patterns the last few months, about $660/month on groceries, which sounds about right for my household.
Mint also gives you handy hints for saving money, like switching to a credit card better suited for my spending habits, and it has already sent me a couple emails reminding me to pay some bills and a warning about the low balance in my chequing account (that one is destined to be there always). I'm still discovering what all Mint can do for me, but first impressions are that I'm pretty damn impressed and I do recommend this free webapp to everyone, and I urge you to get the iPhone/BlackBerry app to go along with it as well.
One caveat to consider: having all your debt and spending habits put on-screen in front of you in a handy pie chart is a sobering moment, but a necessary one towards an end goal of financial security.

The Selby is in Your Place

Posted by James Davie On 2011-02-11 0 comments

WTF? Selby, get the hell out of my place!

Apparently this refers to some art dude, not our very own Selbonaut. Thank god for that - I don't think I could stand his ego getting any larger.  LOL!

Captain America - F**K Yeah!

Posted by James Davie On 2 comments

The improved Captain America trailer. NSFW Language.

If John Hughes made Zelda

Posted by Bairen On 3 comments

A fake movie preview of The Legend of Zelda, done if 16 Candles, Breakfast Club was the basis. Enjoy. I pulled this off of Kotaku.

Singing for Stephen Fry's Baby

Posted by James Davie On 2 comments

This is just so damn cute. And geeky. And awesome.

Harry Potter Pole Dance

Posted by James Davie On 2011-02-09 1 comments

I can't decide if the magic is what she can do on a pole, or what she does to my pole.

Girl has talent. And way too much clothing.

GAWD Bless America Trailer

Posted by Selbonaut On 2011-02-04 3 comments

This looks like it will be a funny one.

Fox News FTW!!!

Posted by Selbonaut On 2011-02-03 1 comments

It is a good thing they know where Egypt goes. Right in the middle of where they want to drop the bomb I suppose.

Resonant Blip

Posted by Kyro Sk On 0 comments

            -- Admiral Bob

"Great sound creations, cool groove."
                                  -- Speck

    "well produced weaving of soft and harsh sounds..."
                  -- scottaltham

Let the Super Bowl Commercials Commence!

Posted by James Davie On 2011-02-02 3 comments

And this one is just too damn cute!