Friday, June 27, 2008

My Life as King: Slow Bleed

One of the biggest gripes Gamespot had about this game was the nature of the microtransactions. I didn't consider it in my review, but it's definitely worth mentioning.

Available for additional purchase after you download the game ($15) are several add-ons. These don't change the game dramatically, so none of them are critical to actually playing through the game. However, some people are completionists, and it will drive them up the wall to know they don't have everything.

The items for download cost between $1-3. Some of them simply add new dungeons for your followers to complete, along with whatever rewards might be found therein. Others allow for new buildings to be constructed, including those which draw citizens of different races to your city. Still others are just cosmetic upgrades, such as a new outfit for the king.

My reaction to this was somewhat double-minded; on the one hand, if you're enjoying a game, what's an additional $1 to add in some more content? On the other, purchasing everything they have available doubles the price of the game. And a full dollar just for a freaking costume change? That's ridiculous.

On top of that, it seems as though a lot of the new content is built into the game; this means that you're just paying to unlock it. A lot of people rightly fear that games will go in this direction. You pay full price for a game that only allows you access to the most basic aspects of it, while slowly bleeding your wallet so that you can enjoy the entire game.

You might find this to be a disgusting business practice. I can't say I disagree. I guess we all have to vote with our wallets, but good luck turning back the clock on this one.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Labels

Sometimes I despise post-modern America, where labels mean whatever you want them to mean. Oh sure, that's not universally true. I could call myself a lesbian, but most people would just look at me like I was a certified whacko. Still, there are areas where this seems to flourish, and it drives me batty.

Here's what I'm getting at: The Pew Forum recently released the data for the second part of their Religious Landscape survey in America. One of the most disturbing aspects, at least to me, involves self-identified Evangelical Christians. When asked whether their religion was the only way to heaven (a central dogma in Christianity), 57% said no. Fifty-seven percent! That means that at least half, if not more, of all self-identifying Evangelical Christians don't even understand what it means to be Christian! Is it any wonder that American Christianity sees such decline?

Of course, such silliness is not limited to Christians, either. Apparently 5% of atheists believe in God. Seriously? This word you keep using, "atheist" . . . I don't think it means what you think it means.

Review: My Life as King

I haven't bought a lot of video games lately, mainly due to rising costs elsewhere in my life. Moving across the country ain't cheap, I'm slowly discovering. Still, after hearing the praise this game received from others, I thought I'd give Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as King a try.

This game is one of the new Wii Ware titles, downloadable games attracting a bit more attention than the ports from earlier times Nintendo offered previously.

This title has a lot of the themes you'd find familiar in a Final Fantasy game: White and Black Mages, Thieves and Warriors, buying armor and weapons and potions (Oh my!), etc. The catch is that a lot of that stuff is now out of your hands.

Think of it as a blend of SimCity (or The Sims, depending on your preferred flavor) and a traditional Final Fantasy game. You're the king of this developing nation. You use your magic to summon buildings (and thus people) into the city. From each home you bring in, you can recruit an adventurer. These adventurers can be trained into other classes, and will go forth from your city each day to earn experience and fight monsters. You can issue royal edicts to tell them where to go and what to do, too, in order to prosper your realm.

When your adventurers and other citizens start needing amenities in their city, you build those as well: Weapon and Armor shops, Bakeries, Taverns . . . a great assortment of buildings and features to better your city and help it prosper.

You don't just run around building all day, either. You can chat up your citizens, which increases morale in the city. When you've increased morale to certain levels, you can spend the "excess" and advance your city. Alternatively, you can use your magic with the morale to really help your citizens, allowing bonuses for your adventurers as they go out or helping your citizens get along with their friends and family better.

Though this might sound rather complicated, the game is, at its heart, a fairly simple strategy/sim game. Despite the mediocre review given to it by Gamespot, I was quite taken with it. I lost a lot of hours to Maxis games in the past, so this game's appeal was striking.

I would recommend this game heartily to anyone who either 1) likes fantasy, or 2) likes Sim games. If you like both, then why haven't you downloaded it yet?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ten Concerns on Obama

Sometimes, when I tell people that I'm not going to vote for Barack Obama, they look at me in utter shock. It's as if I'm telling them I don't like ice cream, or that raping puppies should be the new national pastime. Something to that effect, anyway.

To summarize my objections, I offer this NRO article: Ten Concerns about Barack Obama. You should definitely read the entire thing, but I'll distill the thing down to the authors' bullet points:
  1. Barack Obama’s foreign policy is dangerous, na├»ve, and betrays a profound misreading of history

  2. Barack Obama’s Iraq policy will hand al-Qaeda a victory and undercut our entire position in the Middle East, while at the same time put a huge source of oil in the hands of terrorists

  3. Barack Obama has sent mixed, confusing, and inconsistent messages on his policy toward Israel

  4. In the primary campaign, Barack Obama consistently campaigned against NAFTA, but has now changed his tune, as he has with other issues

  5. Barack Obama’s judgment about personal and professional affiliations is more than troubling

  6. Obama is simply out of step with how terrorists should be handled; he would turn back the clock on how we fight terrorism, using the failed strategy of the 1990s as opposed to the post-9/11 strategy that has kept us safe

  7. Barack Obama’s economic policies would hurt the economy

  8. Barack Obama opposes drilling on and offshore to reduce gas and oil prices

  9. Barack Obama is to the left of Hillary Clinton and NARAL on the issue of life

  10. Barack Obama is actually to the left of every member of the U.S. Senate

Monday, June 09, 2008

Hip to be square

Last night I went to a concert with an old high school friend. She works for a small record label, Polyvinyl, so going to trendy clubs for concerts is both a common thing and a big deal for her. If you know anything about me, you know that this sort of thing puts me completely out of my element.

After last night, I don't think anything changed that at all.

Perhaps I just don't understand what draws people to certain subcultural trends. It strikes me that a lot of the current 'hipster' trends reflects an attempt to live in ages bygone. I'm not really certain why my generation looks back at previous decades and wistfully dreams of reliving such golden days, but it seems to be the way it is. The 70s seem to bring out the hideous plaid shirts, the beers that are inexplicably being brewed yet, the haircuts (and facial hair) that show a contempt for the barber's tools . . . I don't get it. The 80s bring out too-tight, too-short jeans, Converse All-Stars (as well as other shoes which were probably fished out of a Thrift Store dumpster), etc.

Look, I'm probably the last person who should criticize anyone's fashion tastes. Lord knows my own choices run the gamut from "My sister dressed me at American Eagle" and "I own 1000 silly gamer tees." It's just strange to me how it seems like so much of the hipster scene is an attempt to capture something from the past. I wonder why that is.

Anyhow, to put a cap on this pointless post, I thought I would leave you all with Hipster Bingo. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

For Me, Not Thee

I saw something about this in an article the other day, but it was mentioned in an off-hand way so that I didn't think too much about it.

At York University (Canada), the student government is voting on a measure to ban all student-led pro-life groups from campus. Their reasoning? It violates women's rights to allow someone to tell them that abortion is wrong or to call it murder.

One of the things to keep in mind is that most of the student body has left for the summer, so some people might be returning in the fall to find out that their group has been disbanded by order of the student government. What better time to enact such matters than when the plebians are least likely to complain?

I can't fathom the mindset of such people. Is it that they think there is some redeeming quality to taking away someone's right to free speech? Or is it that they genuinely think women have a right to be inoculated against pro-life messages? Either way, the thinking is alien to me.

Hat tip: Ace

Off-label, Indeed

I've never been much a club-going, bar-hopping hipster. A friend of mine drug me to a bar with a DJ not too long ago and it didn't do too much for me. It really doesn't surprise me, then, that I missed this silly little trend:
New York bouncer, blogger and author Rob Fitzgerald has noticed a trend among many of the macho young men waiting outside his clubs. He says the guys are slathering up their torsos with the hemorrhoid cream Preparation H to make themselves look "ripped" for the ladies.
I can't decide if this is one of those things that's too silly to be made up, or too silly to be true. Either way . . . yikes.

My favorite comment I've heard on this, so far, is that this isn't really off-label use. Afterall, isn't Preparation H meant to be rubbed on irritating . . . well, you know. Really, though, the best part is the picture they included with the story:

Monday, June 02, 2008

All of the above?

I was driving back from Chicago the other day and something strange happened to me.

A van began to pass me on the left. While that is not unusual, I was surprised when the passenger put a sign up on her window for me to read.
Horny? We are!
It was then followed by two MySpace addresses. I couldn't tell you what they were, the girls were driving too fast. I was quite confused. Why are these ladies doing this? Are they "adult models?" Hookers? Just looking for a "good time?" Or are they simply attention whores, looking for traffic to their pages?

Hard to say, but it was just very weird.

And yeah, I realize I have squandered my moments of high traffic by not posting on the blog for a while. Surprisingly, I've had a life to occupy my time. Go figure, eh?