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Month: July 2007



I have stumbled across a new table-top, pen and paper RPG that goes by the name of Paranoia. A quote from the Wikipedia entry:

The game is set in Alpha Complex, an immense and futuristic domed or underground city controlled by The Computer, a schizophrenic civil service AI construct. The Computer has made happiness mandatory. Failure to be happy is punishable by summary execution. […] To deal with [threats], The Computer employs Troubleshooters, whose job is to solve problems: they go out, find trouble and shoot it. […] In most scenarios, each player character is in fact a mutant, commie and/or secret society member, and is given a hidden agenda separate from the group’s goals, often involving swindling or killing teammates – hence the name Paranoia. Therefore, Troubleshooter missions invariably turn into a constant comedy of errors as everyone on the team seeks to double-cross everyone else while keeping their own secrets. The game encourages an air of suspicion between the players, offering several tips on how to make Paranoia as paranoid an experience as possible.

I had not read more than this before I went over to and bought the latest core rule book. I wish I could make this post longer by saying more but I honestly know next to nothing about the game and it’s rules. Since I am so obviously enthralled before even setting eyes on any of the actual rules let us tally up the score, shall we?

    The primary NPC is called “The Computer”
    The PCs are constantly looking for ways to screw each other
    Troubleshooters go out and shoot trouble
    I am a sucker for sci-fi and post-apocalyptic themed fiction

There is even a fan-created online server/client Java-based application that allows people to play over the ‘net called JParanoia!

I am so there.

Trust The Computer. The Computer is Your Friend.

Unknown Armies Online

Unknown Armies Online

After some research I have discovered there is no good way to run an Unknown Armies game online. This brings me to my next thought:

What would I include if I were to make my own “Unknown Armies Online” system?

Obvious stuff includes character sheets, dice rolling, a chat system– both PC-to-PC/GM and public– and a map. I imagine it being a web-based, AJAX application. This way the platform is already deployed (virtually everyone already has it) and is low bandwidth.

I am not saying I am going to make my own but it is tempting.

Update 2007.07.20
I just had a fellow ask me if I needed any help with this project. I am not sure how he/she found out about my blog but I am happy he/she did. There may be interest in this out there after all.

For anyone wondering I responded with a “I would like this to be a personal project”.

Apple? More like A Cult… le… (???)

Apple? More like A Cult… le… (???)

I am not sure why but I dare to say the following out loud.

When someone refers to a PC they are either referring to Windows (I would dare to put that number somewhere in the 90% range) or Linux. Outside of those two OSes is inside a school or research facility or lab of some kind. Perhaps a data center with a specialized application for it. Not always but most of the time. Focusing on Windows or Linux one can say a lot about either (or even start comparing them with their fellow townsfolk and flaming sticks). It gets tiring. As much as I love a good flame I am so very tired.

So along comes Apples with its long hair, Free-the-Whales attitude and something I may start referring to as “The Way”. Instead of me (someone who has never touched a Mac in his life) describing it I direct you to Tycho from Penny-Arcade:

Having serviced Macs at one point in my illustrious IT career, I understand that there is simply an Apple Way of doing things, and it is often a very, very good way but it’s still their way as opposed to some natural ratio of the universe. It’s not universal, and there are strange blind spots, but there is a reason that their chosen people hoist the banner.

I am well aware I am not the first nor will I be the last to point this out but this is some kind of cult. A cult of artsy nerds. The kids who no one liked 10 to 20 years ago and sat alone at lunch– if they dared to show at all– have all band together into one, formless blob.

I use the word “formless” to describe the followers and not the leaders. Where as you see people in the Linux community (for example) working together– or even on their own– to create new experiences and applications you see the Mac-Heads (or whatever) on their knees praying. They pray Steven Jobs may come to them in a dream and tell them what to buy next. They pray for the next big thing to come to them instead of creating it themselves. This is a very important distinction to make as it will most likely define such a culture.

I do not want to sit at the station waiting for the bus. The people on the bus smell funny. When I come across a problem I either want to find a way around it or tackle it head-on. Being at the whim of a closed-OS means I am at the whim of a business. They may decide that instead of US coins (an obvious, nation-wide standard in the US) they are going to start requiring bus passes I do not want to be forced to buy a new bus. A bus I am not even allowed to drive no matter how much I paid for the privilege.

If you were to question– and of course get an honest answer– a cult member you may ask them why they joined in the first place. They may say something like “I just wanted to check it out but I never intended to join before I got there.” This is my fear: If I were to check out The Way could I turn back? What if I liked what I saw so much my parents and the police are showing up at my new home only to hear “but I am staying here under my own, free will.” This is the fear…

Is it time to buy a pair of white Nikes?

PC vs Console

PC vs Console

I recently came across this article. It contrasts this article (sort of) but my focus will be on the former. In typical Nick style instead of bringing you peace I will bring you conflict as I enjoy it. Take this, console fan boys!

I feel the article hits on some key points on why to choose a PC over a console. Instead of me reviewing a review– the “review” being nothing more but a self-answering questionnaire– I will instead just agree or disagree with each point. As you may have assumed it would help if you read the article first.

HD is So Last Gen
As much as I love to blow stuff up in games just to blow them up I tend to focus on content over awesome graphics.

Mouse & Keyboard for the Win
As much fun as Golden-Eye for the N64 was the controls are inherently bad. Even with such a game that did the best possible job they could have they still sucked. I sort of got the hang of it but come on! 3D space calls for 3D controls!

Now You’re Really Playing with Power
This is not an argument that is all that strong in my mind. Sure you can get more raw power in a PC at will but there is something you would be forgetting. Consoles (at least the well made ones) are controlled platforms machines. What I mean by that is since they are not general computing machines you know what you are getting and can write very tight routines to take advantage of every last bit of power. No abstraction layers, no guessing or checking bit-fields. What you are left with is code that may very well run circles around superficially similar code on a PC. Pains me to say it but console for the win on this one…

Will Wright = Game God
Huh? I could not hear you over Carmack‘s mighty roar.

Kids’ Play
This argument holds a lot of water. Before anyone says “Halo has blood!” or some such stuff (read: shit) remember you are playing the dumbed-down version of another game. Consoles are built for mass appeal and the masses are finicky.

With that said the Super Monkey Ball series is great fun.

Blame it on the Console Gamers
“Console gamers are responsible for the decline of some of the PCs best franchises.” Plain and simple. Halo looked awesome when it was coming to PC. Then Microsoft stepped in, changed everything and now we have… this. For every Metroid there are 10,000 whiny little brats with a headset and microphone screaming “wall hack” for no other reason than they lost.

Their culture is among the bottom of the food chain and it shows.

You Think That’s Realistic?
PCs are the ones pushing the limits. Consoles imitate. Cutting-edge technology is the PC.

But again: content > shiny.

GamerTags are Overrated
What the fuck? GamerTags? Are we six? A gold star for you…

The Invincible PC
I do not doubt this is very much a cutting edge sword. If a PC can be considered “invincible” because you can keep upgrading it you will be poor pretty soon: PCs can be expensive. If they are worth it or not depends on how serious you are about gaming.

Nyah, Nyah, Console Tools
Suck it.

Vista Can See You!

Vista Can See You!

Softpedia offers this article about Vista and the spying it does.

I think if anyone is surprised by anything in this article they do not follow the industry. At all. This is a trend that is everywhere from the biggest companies to the smallest, well-meaning individuals. Can I blame Microsoft for collecting certain information? The line is blurred but my answer is still a “no”. It makes perfect business sense and can lead to better software– not that I mean to imply it will in this case. Microsoft has always seemed to go in 100 different directions at once and found themselves scrambling at the last moments only using the required information. I am not trying to say this information will go to waste but I highly doubt we will see any direct, positive results in their software.

Of course one can always hope.