It may be sacrilege to some, but this clip of the martial arts master Bruce Lee with added lightsaber effects is pretty awesome:
And yes, lightsaber nunchuks have appeared in some Star Wars media before, though I can see why they’re probably not the most widely-used variant of a cut-through-anything weapon one might have.
It may be sacrilege to some, but this clip of the martial arts master Bruce Lee with added lightsaber effects is pretty awesome:
So it got cold recently. *Really* cold, to the point where crystallized water fell from the sky and accumulated on the ground. This summoned a small creature holding a flat plank-like object made of plastic who kept tugging at my sleeve saying “sledding!”
So for what turned out to be a four-day weekend (thanks to a holiday and snow day), I did my duty standing sentinel as my son flew down a nearby hill until he and the others had worn the snow off of the grass. My wife was unavailable due to being almost-flu-level-sick, and I only had a milder version of her head cold, so I was drafted into service.
Since we weren’t willing to die of exposure the entire weekend, I went and looked at software that was on sale with which I might amuse my offspring (while his mom & dad tried to recover from their respective illnesses). Humblebundle had the tail end of their holiday sale still going on at the time, and I found something controversial to pick up for our wee lad: No Man’s Sky.
For the one or two of you out there who play games and haven’t heard of this title, it’s kind of a shining example of what too much hype, too many promises, and two early a ship date can do to a game and the reputations of those who made it. Reviews ranged from “this is completely awful” to “yeah, it’s bad, but it’s okay if you enjoy a zen-like experience.” Our son had (thanks to me) seen the trailers over a year ago, finding them cool and atmospheric, so he was all aboard for giving the game a try, and overall, he digs it. His enjoyment stems from the fact that this is his first flight sim of any kind, he gets to tool around in spaceships, there’s a “creative mode” where you don’t have to spend hours gathering resources, and he gets to blow things up with his pew-pew guns. It’s kind of a slightly more violent space-based version of one of his other favorite titles, Burnout Paradise.
I should mention the main attraction for picking up a game I knew was flawed and might not ever be improved much more was the fact that it was on sale for about $20, which is about a third of its usual retail price, which was another sticking point for the hatred it garnered from gamers. It did get an update in October, but the little I played showed me some of the complaints about confusing controls and the resource gathering cycle are still there.
Perhaps I’ll give an in-depth look at the game if it has another large update and I have the time to devote to it. As it stands, I’ll just watch Josh occasionally take his ship for a spin and complain about the injustice of being fired upon when all he did was blow up “only one” of a fleet’s ships. 🙂
It’s a snowday for my wife and son, so hopefully they’ll be distracted by Minecraft on the Xbox while I get some drawin’ done. Here’s some random no-school (for our locale) links to celebrate:
• I never knew there was a Guinness World Record for running the fastest 100 m sprint and farthest distance while on fire without oxygen. Now I do, and I can’t understand why this isn’t an Olympic sport.
• From the “teaching your kids the wrong lessons about what to not put in their mouths but it’s still impressive” department comes this recipe for edible detergent pods. It’s the first time I’ve wanted to eat blue Jello.
• It’s not exactly the flying cars we were promised, but Intel’s “Volocoptor” may be a decent substitute. If nothing else, it looks more like the vehicles in those “city of the future” drawings from magazines in the 1920’s.
• In case Bethesda or some intrepid modder is out there working on a China-based Fallout game, they might want to include Bejing’s massive nuclear bunker, located 2km belowground. I don’t see any Stealth Armor, but then again, if it’s working properly, I wouldn’t, would I?
• Nature magazine has it’s Best Science Images of 2017 for your viewing pleasure… apart from the tapeworm photo. That one can quietly leave, thanks.
• Now I want to be in a D&D campaign where monsters waylay travelers for their cash because infrastructure doesn’t maintain itself.
• If you have some time to kill or a thirst for video game history, here’s an exhaustive and interesting quest to find the first video game commercial, which may or may not include the involvement of Frank Sinatra.
• And how about a stickman game where you jump around an obstacle course in a ninja-like fashion? You might enjoy Stickman Boost, a game of breaking through walls and many stickman fatalities.
The house I live in is old and weird. My walls consist of lath, plaster, wood beams, several layers of paint dating back about 100 years, and a few relics of the knob-and-tube era of electrical wiring. This has given rise to some oddball behavior when it comes to the broadcast and reception of electronic signals when residing there.
The first hint I had of this was over a decade ago when a guy from the phone company was tracking down a problem with my landline. He was in the basement, and he came up the stairs staring at his giant walkie-talkie Ma Bell phone that he used to talk to the home office. He told me that mine was the first house he’d been in that had killed his super-phone’s signal. I then found out that certain cordless phone frequencies didn’t work well within my walls. 2.4 gigahertz worked okay, but when phones changed to 5.0 gigahertz and higher, no cordless phone would function well if the handset left the room the base was in.
We eventually went to cell phones, and, naturally, the house loved to kill the traffic from the towers. We have a cell tower about a mile and a half from our house, and that’s the only reason we could get signal at all. The main bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom may as well have been on another planet when it came to pulling in a single bar of connectivity. What really made it unusable for me was when I discovered that if I put my phone in my pants pocket and sat at my desk, it lost all signal completely. My desk isn’t anything special; It’s made from pressboard and fake-wood veneer. Unless the company was really shady and thought some lead contamination might give the furniture some extra heft, I can’t see why that would be the culprit.
Our provider gave us the capability to make calls over our WiFi, so that solved the problem, but the underside of my desk reared its strange effect on electronics again recently. For Christmas, I was given a nifty set of bluetooth headphones, so I wouldn’t have to remain within five feet of my computer to listen to stuff when I didn’t want to disturb others. I also got a little USB transmitter that I plugged into the back of my PC case. The PC is also under my desk, on the floor. Perhaps it’s to blame somehow for generating an EM field or maybe it’s haunted by the ghost of a dead Windows tech, but when I fired up the headphones, the audio sounded like it was being squeezed through a dial-up connection.
Digging through my bins of computer parts, I found a USB cable that let me put the transmitter above the desk at about head level. Now, I get pretty clear sound and can walk about twenty or so feet away without any real problems. I haven’t tried wearing a headband with a coathanger covered in aluminum foil to increase my reception range yet, but the thought has occurred to me.
It’s things like this that makes me wish I had a friend in one of our spy agencies I could ask to sweep my house with all the stuff they supposedly have to see what we’re up to. I’m curious if it would show up as just a void to their equipment or if I’m living in a house-shaped gateway to an alternate dimension where electronic devices hate those that use them.
Because lists are a thing at this time of year (Happy New Year, by the way), I thought I’d try to subvert the usual year-end cliche and do a preemtive best/worst-of for 2018 thus far. This may seem like a personal list, but rest assured that these are definitely the best and worst of the first days of 2018 for everyone, everywhere.
Best Random Thing I’ve Seen on the Internet in 2018: The cat on a Roomba headlining this post.
Best Worldwide Non-Event: No country thought that nuclear weapons would be a great addition to any fireworks displays.
Worst Timing by an Infectious Disease: The head cold my son caught right before Christmas break.
Best Cure for an Infectious Disease: Getting a new Xbox with Minecraft on it so he doesn’t notice any symptoms of being sick or, perhaps, of being alive (though he is, as I check his pulse regularly).
Best Reason for the Previous Year to End: (Warning: May not be safe for young ears or workplaces) The Big Fat Quiz of the Year.
Worst Action by a Corporate Entity: Probably a takedown of the above video, eventually.
Worst Thing To Come Home To: After about a week away, discovering that someone left some raspberries out in the kitchen (eat your fruit, kids) and now a significant portion of the entire North American fruit fly population inhabits your house.
Best Thing To Learn on the Internet: Red wine vinegar + a few drops of dish soap = fruit fly death trap.
Worst Year-End Legal Act I Can Think Of: The end of Net Neutrality.
Best Cure for Most of The Worst: Coffee still works.
That’s about all I can think of for the moment. I’ll be sure to add more lists ~~if they attract more clicks~~ when valuable insights burst forth from my brainmeats. I hope everyone’s having at least a kinda-sorta okay 2018 thus far!
So while I didn’t have access to my art tools of choice over this time between Christmas and New Year’s, I did have my laptop and access to Steam. Their prices tempted me into getting two games of a humorous nature, depending on one’s sense of humor. I shall give some thoughts on them forthwith:
The Grim Reaper has some souls to collect, and if you want to come back to life (you die at the start of this game), you need to help with the harvest. This pixel-graphic game has lots of cute characters running around a 3D isometric world where your job is to give objects a supernatural nudge in order to cause the demise of the pixel-people wandering about. Sometimes a simple flowerpot is enough to nab a soul, other times a few actions have to be strung together in order to pull off a deadly result. Later levels have some methods of removing the living from their lives that are only present during certain weather conditions, requiring wind, rain, clouds, or lightning to activate.
Then there are the angels. These goody-two-wings show up when you start doing too good a job. If their field of vision intersects something you’re interacting with, you lose one of three chances to avoid having to restart the level. These guys get even thicker on one of the final levels, spawning a new cherub in every time you alter weather conditions. They often got me due to the fact that every death device or action from an object requires two clicks. One kind of “primes” it, putting a colored circle around what you’re going to manipulate and gives you some info about what it is or what it’ll do, and a second click actually sets it off. If an angel sees or intersects this “primed bubble,” even if the device isn’t working (due to having no more ammo, power, or whatever), that counts as a mark against you. Ergo, if you just want to see what the description of a potential death trap is, be sure to click away from it to shut that bubble off if there are angels about.
Bonus points are awarded for getting the souls of high-value targets on each level. They’re usually more important or unique to the setting, sometimes with little backstories that influence how they’ll behave, what makes them go to certain places, or gives clues about how to do them in. There’s also bronze, silver, and gold levels of soul-gathering to work for, so once you learn the basics of a stage, you can hopefully figure out more efficient and wide-ranging methods of reaping mortals.
In addition to the dark humor, what I appreciated was that you could pass a level without 100% completion. I could move on to the next setting and enjoy it, coming back to the previous one for a full soul-harvest later on. Even if that’s not something you want to spend time doing, you can at least see the bulk of the content without having to be an expert with a scythe.
If the idea of an actual RPG wrapped up as a silly RPG that’s probably a silly RPG under the actual one sounds appealing, then West of Loathing could be up your alley. From the makers of Kingdom of Loathing, this game is a Weird West adventure set in a world of stick figures, bean-based magic, meat for money, and really good bad jokes. Anyone who has ever played a role-playing game will find fun poked at just about every gaming trope while one experiences those same tropes. It’s still quite fun and has a real game going on under the hood.
With stats like “Moxie” and “Grit,” it might seem that your character’s rankings are meaningless, but rest assured they count. If you don’t have enough Mysticality, forget being able to get XP from reading some weird runes you run across or being effective at casting spells. If you don’t have much Gumption, your foes will often get to attack first during encounters. There are also actual puzzles in the game to solve, which rely more on your real smarts and insight, so you sometimes need to bring those along, too.
This game will take far longer to complete than Death Coming, and there actually is some role-playing going on. You have decisions to make regarding which companion you want along on your adventure, and perhaps the most difficult one I’ve encountered is whether or not to pursue a career in necromancy. You gain magical spells via books, and the first necromancy spell, “Grinnin’ Skull,” is one of my go-to’s in combat. However, when I took another hit of necro-power, I was docked three Moxie points, and the game warns you several times when you’re clicking on the “read” button for the dark spellbooks. I’ve also found a ravine that awards XP for all the “evil” items you toss into it, and the necromancy books are available for disposal. Further, necromancers are pretty much villains, if not annoyances, since they’re responsible for all the animated skeletons you run into everywhere. Still, perhaps they’re just misunderstood, right? 🙂
Anyway, gunslinging and melee combat figure into the game as well, and if I give it another playthrough I’ll see if the game changes based on picking a non-Beanslinging (magic) class. If you decide to give it a whirl, it’s usually well worth indulging seemingly endless conversation strings or activities. Not only are the responses funny, but you often get some sort of perk for showing a willingness to keep clicking when lesser players would wisely give up.
Being defeated in combat isn’t permanent, as you’ll wake up either just outside of where you went into battle (if you have enough Grit) or back at whatever room you’re renting. The downside of being knocked out is that you lose any bonuses you’ve given yourself from food, drink, potions, or other status effects. Since a “day” can last until you hit the hay (by choice or not), the temporary bonuses can start to seem permanent, making their eventual departure problematic, especially if you’re winning battles with them by a hair.
It’s hard to tell what the primary focus of this game is: the humor or the actual game. I guess since you’re playing in a cowboy-like setting full of demonic cows, bean-magic, meat mines, and what seems to be alien technology (you’ll see), the answer is both? So far, I’ve enjoyed this game a lot and think it richly deserves its “overwhelmingly positive” rating.
So there’s two games you might want to try out before the holiday sale is over on January 4th that won’t break the bank and offer a little humor to go along with the ending of digital lives. Plus, they’re probably less stressful than one of the many “battle royale”-style games that I find are more fun to watch other people do poorly at on YouTube, especially if they’ve got a good vocabulary for expressing frustration in a colorful manner.
Left: An ornament depicting the traditional… um… something. Maybe an angelic version of the Nomad probe from Star Trek? I guess?
It’s the holidays again, which means I’ve been having to try to replicate my office’s art capabilities in remote locations. As one can see by the two most recent Full Frontal Nerdity strips, things are pretty dire, indeed. A digital tablet device I brought along couldn’t be coaxed into life, so I had to make do with this primitive “graphite on flattened wood pulp” stuff instead. Thankfully, that’ll come to an end soon.
The internet itself rolls on, bringing us the usual fruits of distraction, such as:
• How were you meant to survive the nuclear holocaust back in the day? By eating some really durable crackers that were stored in your fallout shelter, of course. You might want to bring some preserves to help with the taste.
• I have a little respect for the latest “cute alien” from the Star Wars franchise, as it wasn’t just a marketing ploy. The “porgs” were the result of an effort to digitally alter the puffin population on the island where Luke Skywalker was hiding out.
• I’m a little late in posting it here, but this is a delightful homebrewed collection of festive D&D creatures, The Happy Holidays Handbook.
• What we used to call “text adventure games” back in the old days is now called “Interactive Fiction,” and there are awards for the best works in that field every year. Here’s the best of 2017’s IF competition for you to download and enjoy.
• It’s kind of scary that one of the worst botnets in recent history was originally designed to bring in more money for a Minecraft server.
• And finally, one of the largest Flash-based adventure game series is available for download in one go in the form of Submachine Universe. Unravel a dimension-hopping and time traveling mystery, filled with clever puzzles (some math based, so a heads up if that’s a downer) and some really great atmosphere.
So I’m trying to think how Disney/Marvel might work mutants into their continuity now that they’ve (pending regulatory approval) bought out Fox studios’ interest in the X-Men franchise.
Unless they just want to make mutants a new flavor of Inhuman, they’ll have to kinda-sorta retcon a parallel culture of mutants having existed alongside mankind until the present day, albeit in secret. Professor X and Magneto will need to have existed for some time in order to develop their unique relationship (though as time passes, involving WWII is getting a little ridiculous). The Weapon X program that gave us Wolverine could start “now,” give or take a few years, and it would finally allow for the ages of the X-characters to be more or less set without having them jump around from film to film.
I have to say I’m torn on the Mutant vs. Inhuman thing. The sci-fi nerd in me knows that both are pretty loopy concepts, but if we’re going to have science-magic give us superheroes, having an alien super-race give us potential super-powers that are designed for use in conflict makes a little more sense. Plus, the hatred of mutants in the Marvel Universe makes less and less sense as time goes on, since if you hate mutants, you should probably hate sorcerers, irradiated smash-ogres, Norse gods, and armor-suited millionaire playboy gadgeteers as well.
Now, this could set up an interesting conflict in the Marvel U: Two mistrusted groups that either intentionally antagonize each other or try to turn public opinion against the other group. The “core” characters that headline comic book titles would likely remain in the “hero” camp, but I could see some Inhumans deciding to encourage Mutant hate so as to take some of the public ire off of their flavor of metahuman. Meanwhile, some Mutants could decide to stage some public destruction and blame the Inhumans for it. Both camps can try to gain sympathy as they were genetically predisposed to becoming metahumans, but there’s *just enough* difference to make two “sides” for more believable antagonism among metas and between metas and the “normal” population.
At some stage, however, I think the various comic book universes might need to take a look at the comics Powers and Astro City, where superheroism is just so prevalent that society has to adapt and try to make the best of it. Marvel has Damage Control to repair everything that gets destroyed in short order. As for DC, I think it would’ve been great if in Man of Steel or even the Batman movies, we’d seen that LexCorp and Wayne Industries both had large stakes in “hero-proofing” buildings, giving cities glass and construction that can withstand the impact of a bulletproof human-sized body being hurled at it at high velocity, for example.
But that can all wait until the 100th movie or so for some worldbuilding flavor, I guess. 🙂
At a convention, I once heard one of the people who worked on one of the many Star Wars RPGs tell a story about how the publishers had put together the vital statistics for Darth Vader’s Executor Star Destroyer, including its length. One fan wrote in to tell them they’d gotten the size of the ship totally wrong and had based their assessment on the size of the nearby moon of Endor, its curvature, and other visual cues from the footage in Return of the Jedi.
Now we have a similar situation with the opening credits to Star Trek Voyager:
This wasn’t my favorite Trek show, but now I can’t even enjoy the opening credit sequence without thinking about this. Such is the life of a nitpicker. 🙂
First up, let’s have something from a genre I didn’t know existed until yesterday called “electro swing.” This is “Whoopsie Daisy,” and it’s hard to get out of your head:
A few more? Why not?
• We have some jazzy percussion in the form of a guy drumming along to dialog from King of the Hill’s Boomhauer.
• This is more to the fans of music that’s… more “novel.” It’s William Shatner singing “Garbageman” by the Cramps.
• And while not strictly about music, it has a musical track backing it, so here’s a trailer mashup for many of 2017’s major movie releases.