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Archive May 2005
Monday 30 May 2005
If any of my readers are Guild Wars players and lack a guild, they should join mine. [07:37] [0 comments]


Tuesday 24 May 2005
With June approaching, it's about time I posted my Vegan Christmas Dinner recipe.

You will need:
  • some sort of loaf-ish sized tin
  • two saucepans
  • A baking tray
  • Half a red cabbage
  • Two cooking apples, or two reasonably tart apples such as granny smiths and a bit of lemon juice
  • Between a third and half a kilogram of mixed nuts (mine are peanuts, cashews, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, macadamias)
  • Some bread, probably the ends of some old bread that you weren't going to eat anyway
  • Some stuff to make vegan gravy
  • Some potatoes
  • Some grapeseed oil
First, shove your nuts in a blender. Ho ho, no, the mixed nuts you zany buffoon! Also put the bread in there at the same time, and blend them both until you have a coarse substance (about 2mm-3mm lumps). Adding a bit of flour to this will make the roast bind a little better, if you prefer.

Grease the loaf-ish sized tin, then tip the nuts-and-bread into it. Flatten the surface out, then add water slowly and evenly until there's a few millimetres of water over the top of the stuff. Stir it around a bit if you like. Shove that in the oven at a fairly low temperature (250-300F).

Wash the red cabbage, then tear it up and throw it in a saucepan on a low heat, with a lid. If it dried between washing it and entering the pan, add just a tiny splash of water. Now peel and core the apples, chop them up into smallish pieces, and mix them in with the cabbage. If your apples weren't cooking apples, also add a splash of lemon juice. Stir that occasionally for a long time.

When the cabbage has been on for a couple of hours, cut up your potatoes into inch-to-two-inch pieces, brush them with grapeseed oil or whatever oil you like really, shove them in the oven (that's what the baking tray is for) with the nut-thing - put the potatoes on a higher shelf - and turn the oven up to about 350F. Keep on with stirring the cabbage occasionally.

The potatoes are just being roast potatoes. Surely you know how that works? You might want to turn them over or something at some point, but really they'll still be fine if you don't. If the nut-thing reaches a dark brown colour at any point in the cooking process, take it out of the oven - it's perfectly good reheated, so there's no need to burn it just because other things aren't ready yet. The cabbage pretty much can't be overcooked, so leaving that on for too long is always alright within reason. IF YOUR HOUSE BURNS DOWN THEN IT WAS NOT WITHIN REASON.

When the potatoes look nearly done, since they're the one component whose timing is actually important, make the gravy in that other saucepan. Now put all the things on a plate and eat them. You probably shouldn't put the gravy on the red cabbage, but do put it on the potatoes and nut-roast. Unless you don't like gravy, in which case you shouldn't even have made it. You don't have to follow a recipe to the letter, you know. My recipes barely even have letters, so there's no excuse.

Next day, forget anew how nice roast potatoes are, and don't make them again for another six months, or until someone's blog reminds you. [11:02] [14 comments]


Wednesday 18 May 2005
A fantastic page of ridiculous Australia-based gifts, mostly of activities. A few of them are reasonable gifts at a reasonable price (eg. $99 to fly a glider for a bit), but some of the sillier options are brilliant. Highlights:

"Life Coaching by Email - Two Months" for $99. What a bargain. I hope the life coaching is like "lol dont pay $99 for emails u moran". I especially like the idea of getting this as a gift for someone. It's $99 to say "stop whining at me about your pathetic problems".

"Paintballing for Two - AWESOME!!! The most adrenalin pumping action and adventure that anybody can take part in." This is the only entry that says AWESOME!!!, so one can only assume that all of the other activities are entirely non-AWESOME!!!

"Facial with Marine Herbs" - snigger.

"Coffee Experience Course - Have six bags of premium coffees delivered direct to your door and learn how to make the perfect cupí!" I'm not sure what that apostrophe is doing there. The blurb also describes it as a Coffee Appreciation Course. Which is it really? How much Coffee Experience before you level-up?

"Gondola Cruise - River Torrens". This one is especially funny for a British person now living in Australia. Familiarity with the old Cornetto advertisements ("just one cornetto" sung to the tune of O Sole Mio on Venetian gondolas), combined with familiarity with Australian accents. Perhaps just as funny with the stereotype for the accent, though, like the Simpsons' player of knifey-spoony. Gondolas are just tremendously out of place on Australian rivers. Jus' one cornetto, mate? Aw go on?

"Cheese Tasting Experience - This is whey good." Yes, it really says that.

"Kite Surfing - This 2 hour lesson will teach you the fundamentals of kite surfing and will conclude with your body dragging in the shallows behind the kite."

"House Colour Consultation". Yes, that is what it sounds like. Pay $99 to have someone tell you what colour to paint your house. Tell you what, pay me $99. Blue.

"Butterfly Intimate Release". This isn't what you might think (link not work-safe). It's actually that you pay $99 to have two butterflies released from a box near you, and a picture is taken. Um.

"Night Sky Star Ceiling Portal". Someone paints stars on your ceiling. Really. That's what it is.

Then a look at some of the insanity in the $250 range - perhaps even more insane than the $99 two months of Life Coaching By Email, we have the $250 "Happiness Coaching 1 Hour Session". Expanding on the $99 Cheese Tasting Experience, we have a $250 Wine and Cheese Tasting Experience... but it's apparently not whey good. There's a Night Sky Star Ceiling, which is seemingly absolutely indistinguishable from the Night Sky Star Ceiling Portal except for being more expensive.

In $500 we have Paintball Extreme For 2, which isn't AWESOME!!!, but "it is a mixture of hide and seek and tag." We also have a "Cheese Tasting Extravaganza" Screw that wine from the $250 set, Extravaganz is worth much more. And there's Kite Surfing that doesn't end with your body dragging along, which I suppose is a bonus. [13:49] [1 comment]


Tuesday 17 May 2005
Today I am a bit cross with Guild Wars. Sort of unfairly so; the thing that's annoying me is something that's true of all games of similar genre, and Guild Wars avoids it more than most. But not entirely, and today is the point at which it impacts on me. The decision of wanting to play as a different class, and having to bloody start again and re-do all the stuff you already did.

For player-versus-player, Guild Wars largely avoids this problem - my already-advanced character could switch secondary class through all the other classes, and unlock all the skills, then I could create custom PvP characters fully powered and equipped at whatever level I like. The problem lies in the two post-completion non-PvP areas, which can only be accessed with non-PvP characters, which means all the levelling up, and acquisition of skills and equipment, must be done from the start.

I realise a lot of people enjoy the whole levelling thing, but it's not really my cup of tea. I realised how annoying it was when I played the platform game I linked to the other day and had more fun playing that than recently playing Guild Wars. Which set me wondering whether the game-design I have in my head for future development is actually going to be fun or not. After some pondering I realised that the answer is "sort of". That there are completely distinct sorts of fun, and my brain-stored wargame would score highly on my favourite of them.

So now I'm trying to mentally codify what sorts of fun there are in games.
  • Chore fun - the one I don't enjoy but that plenty of people seem to. Levelling up, walking a character from A to B, anything repetitive. Prevalent in RPGs, especially MMORPGs. You get better by repetition and patience.
  • Twitch fun - games of quick reactions. Mario, Sonic, R-Type. You mostly get better by practice. Probably the most fun of the types, but also relatively short-lived.
  • Concentration fun - Chess, Go, wargames. You mostly get better by learning. My favourite of the types.
  • Power fun - giving orders, management games. The Sims, Nationstates, Black and White. There is no getting better, because there is no winning. In some management games you might get better by fine-tuning, minor adjustments.
  • Solving fun - puzzles. Tetris, crosswords, all those bloody games with diamonds. I'm not entirely sure how this is distinct from concentration, but the learning curve is a very different shape, flattening out much more swiftly. After only a short while, any improvement in Tetris play is twitch improvement rather than solving improvement. Perhaps the distinction is that solving has simple rules and that's where it ends, while concentration has sets of simple rules interacting to form complex systems. A computer program easily beats a human at a game of solving, but needs a lot more work to win at a game of concentration.

So, the wargame in my head is pretty much all Concentration, and, on consideration, very little Chore. So that's good, as far as I'm concerned. The other simpler multiplayer puzzle-ish game I'd quite like to make would be Twitch, Concentration and Solving. And Robobeasts, the game that's actually in development already... doesn't really fit into any of the categories very well at all. But I'm fairly convinced that it would be fun, so I must be missing a type. I don't know, maybe it's a bit of everything but Twitch. Perhaps cooperation and competition are more types. Ah - diplomacy? I don't know. And what sort of fun are personality tests? [10:22] [4 comments]


Sunday 15 May 2005
A fun free game; Doukutsu Monogatari (Cave Story), pointed at by Levez. It's like Legend of Zelda as a platform game. Mostly a pleasant distribution of save-points to minimise annoyance, until the sequence of final bosses, which, in classic console style, are extra hard and numerous and annoying, with no savepoints. [16:17] [1 comment]


Friday 13 May 2005
The new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie is a horrible travesty. I don't mean that like a nerd going "oh no they changed things", I mean it's just a really really horrible movie. There are specific things they changed which annoyed me, but not "oh no, it is different and therefore bad", but rather "what the hell, why did they completely remove the humour from this situation".

To pick an example that particularly stood out, when Ford and Arthur are awaiting being ejected from the Vogon ship quite near the start, in any sensible version the dialogue goes something like this:
"We're going to die, aren't we?"
"Yes... wait, no, what's this?"
"What?"
"Nothing, I was just kidding, we are going to die."
But in this stupid new version, it instead goes more like this:
"We're going to die aren't we?"
"Yes... wait, no, what's this?"
"What?"
"Oh, no, that's no use after all. We are going to die."
Honestly, do Americans have no black sense of humour at all? And I don't mean a black sense of humour like "y'see, white folks drive like this, eeeeeh, eeeeh, and black folks, we drive like this, doo-doo-doo-doo".

Even Alan Rickman sucked as Marvin's voice, which I would have thought would be quite good. And Marvin looked like a giant version of Zim's GIR. And Zaphod's modern method of having two heads was bloody stupid. And there was something horribly wrong with Trillian for no good reason. The only thing that didn't suck was Slartibartfast, and even so he still wasn't as good as the old TV-series rendition.

I'm told the dreadful dolphin song at the beginning actually comprises one of the trailers for the movie. If I'd seen that trailer, I'd have known not to see the movie. Five seconds of that song had me losing nearly all hope for the movie, but foolishly I was hoping the song was being ironic. It wasn't. Unless perhaps the whole movie was made in an ironic way. [08:16] [6 comments]


Thursday 12 May 2005
Battlefield Baseball is the best Japanese movie ever. Even better than Wild Zero. For some reason the only good Japanese movies are movies involving kung-fu, zombies, and something else that makes no sense being combined with kung-fu and zombies. There's songs, there's explosions, there's someone getting their flesh punched off. Actually there aren't really zombies, there's just some people who are greenish blue and deformed which is never really explained. But they fill the role of zombies all the same. The best advertisement for the movie is to read the incoherent drivel that makes up the negative reviews at IMDB. Oh no there is no real playing of baseball in the movie, help!

A Boy and His Dog is quite fun. Mostly it's the ending that redeems the movie, but the whole is perfectly watchable.

Death Run is so atrocious that IMDB doesn't even know about it. As such it was quite enjoyable. The defining moment of the movie is right at the start, when the words "DEATH RUN" are displayed on screen, becoming larger by, I think, the classic credits method of "moving the camera closer to an actual physical manifestation of the words", accompanied by a voice slowly but loudly whispering "DEEEAAATH RUUUN". [07:42] [1 comment]