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Archive July 2005
Friday 29 July 2005
Yes! Thank you Google. Not quite a pointer to the constructor that I bloody should be able to get (the resultant assembly code calls it directly like any other function, so why can't I?), but good enough.
class STUPID {
  static void *ConstructoryEnough(void *pos) {return new(pos) STUPID;}
typedef void* (*CONSTRUCTORPOINTER)(void*);
void *ConstructMeOneOfThese(CONSTRUCTORPOINTER p,void *space) {
int main() {
  char buffer[sizeof(STUPID)];
  void *(*pconstructor)(void*)=STUPID::ConstructoryEnough;
  ConstructMeOneOfThese(pconstructor,buffer); //constructor is called using only a pointer and an allocated space, yay
  ((STUPID*)buffer)->~STUPID(); //destructor called directly, but could be pointerised the same way
Hidden behind that block of code is a really great story about some funny things that happened to me when I went to the shops the other day, and also some pictures of really great things I saw - amusing and pornographic things. See what C++ does? You've all missed out on that fantastic material, and it's all because of C++ engaging in coverups. [06:50] [3 comments]
God damn you, C++. Why must you thwart me so? C would never stop me doing what I want. If C had constructors, and I said to it "hey, give me a pointer to that constructor function", it would say "certainly sir, would you like fries with that?"

C++ just swears at me in Spanish until I go away. If I tell it to take off every zig, if I say "I know what I doing, C++, take off every zig", it responds "ha ha ha ha ha" and then tells me to make my time.

Sure, it'll let me call a constructor if my code knows the class name, but what use is that for run-time loading and linking to things? Sod all use, is the answer. And it's not like it makes it easy even to do that, with its stupid bloody 'keywords' instead of good clean function-style syntax for 'new' and 'delete'. Way to fuck up macros, C++. I hate you. The only good thing you ever did was to make the 'class' keyword, and the only reason that's good is because it's a slight improvement on the syntax of struct. That and making it so local variables can be declared any time before they're used rather than having to be declared at the start. Apart from that, you are tantamount to Java.

You are on the way to destructors. [03:05] [1 comment]

Sunday 24 July 2005
Hooray for a completely lazy Sunday of doing nothing but entertainments.

In movies there was the anime movie "The Cat Returns" and the Tim Burton vehicle "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", and in board-games, some provided by a guest (a guest? In this house? We'll have none of that!), there was Starfarers of Catan, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Atta Ants, Bottle Imp and Pueblo.

Since Mr Wonka is the most likely to be a point of common experience, I'll start with that. It wasn't nearly as bad as I expected - much less Tim Burtony than Big Fish, and, surprisingly, also less Tim Burtony than Batman Begins, even though Batman Begins didn't have anything to do with Tim Burton. Depp seemed a bit wasted, in both senses. The same part could have been played the same way by a non-actor such as Jim Carrey or that similar guy who's in lots of moves that are called The Something. I was a bit bemused that I'd heard "more true to the book" of it, since it didn't even have Charlie fucking up. The pre-chocolate-factory part was dragged out terribly - that's the only place where Tim Burton's heavy hand really showed. Surprisingly, it was Danny Elfman who sinned the most, by putting bloody Edward Scissorhands music into scenes that should have been tuned as dramatic epic vistas of activity. Spooky suburbia-graveyard music does not fit onto a bridge past a chocolate waterfall, Danny (Though I expect this was Burton's fault too, really). I realise I've just said a lot of mean things about the movie, and I'd like to say something nice about it now since it wasn't really bad, but unfortunately there were no specific outstanding things that I can say nice things about. It was just pretty decent apart from all those horrible things. Oh, and the oompa-loompa songs. And the atrocious ending with the fucking narrator explaining what you just saw and heard in case you don't understand events that aren't described aloud. God, describing the movie is almost enough to make me change my mind about it being okay.

On a happier note, The Cat Returns is excellent. By many of the same people as the much more well-known Spirited Away, the animation may be a little cruder, the story a bit less surreal, but it is also more entertaining and coherent. Annoyingly, I don't want to describe the aspect of it I especially liked because, unlike most spoilers, it actually would spoil an entertaining surprise to do so. So instead I'll draw attention to a similar but less spoilery aspect - the main character remains pleasingly true-to-character throughout her surreal adventures. For example, on fleeing along a path made of thousands of crows in flight, she is concerned enough to ask the crow leader whether it hurts them to be walked on. The only deviation from her polite and helpful behaviour is in her comically out-of-character disdain for the wellbeing of the comic-relief sidekick. But he's comic-relief, so she doesn't have to be concerned for him. It's a shame not to mention the spoilery aspects of the plot, but really, it would be much better seen fresh. The thing that really made the movie for me was to have my usual forlorn hope that a movie would do something awesome with a setting, something that movies would never do, and then to have the movie surprise me by doing it exactly as I wanted.

Being briefer for the games, I'll not describe the game-mechanics much since the links above will do that more than adequately; I'll just stick to my impressions of the games. Bottle Imp drives like this ('eeeh eeeh eeeh'), but Pueblo drives like this ('awww hawww'). But anyway. Reviews.

Starfarers of Catan is a long long game, quite a bit longer than Settlers of Catan, but probably also sufficiently more interesting to merit it. Seems a bit overcomplicated at first, but soon settles out. Has a comical plastic toy spaceship for each player that's actually an integral part of the game. Has the same somewhat disappointing end as Settlers, where the winning player goes "oh, that means I win" and all the other players go "oh, so it does", and everyone is a bit surprised and wonders what to do now.

Betrayal at House on the Hill is a bit weird, being a pseudo-cooperative game where at some turning point one of the players becomes evil, and then, eh, the story resolves somehow but nobody really wins or loses and it all seems to have been largely resolved by chance and a bit pointless. In the same way as a game of Dungeons and Dragons played from the old basic rulebook with an inflexible gamesmaster, but in a Lovecraftian setting. While playing it seems interesting enough, but in retrospect it doesn't really seem worth playing a second time.

Atta Ants seemed a bit pointless and uninteresting at first, but reasonable and interesting strategies revealed themselves as the game went on. We seemed to have a bit of a tricky awkward game as our first game, since the starting layout was unusually clustered with spiders and leaves, rather than them being added in as the board expands - we had 3 spiders in the first 8 tiles, another one in the first extra tile, and then none added for the rest of the game. The vaguely ant-like behaviour the game mechanics and strategies lead to are quite pleasing, and it seems to work nicely as an elegant only-slightly-random game, with three players. I'm not at all convinced it would be sufficiently complex with two players unless they play in two player-roles each, but we haven't tried it.

Bottle Imp is a trick-taking card game. It seemed alright, but not very skilful - the main goal is to make sure someone else ends with the imp, the other goal is to take as many tricks as you can, which feels a bit bland. There's nothing really in the way of a bidding phase, so the skill aspect of judging the quality of your hand versus the probable quality of the hands of others (present in most trick-taking games) is missing. If it was a short game that'd probably be fine, but it's multiple rounds, providing plenty of time in which to feel a bit superfluous. The cards pretty much might as well just play themselves. I could be wrong, though, there might be some more subtle strategy I'm missing, having only played 3 hands before we got bored and decided to eat soup instead.

Pueblo is one of the most critically acclaimed games, I believe. It's a nice tactile game, and reasonably balanced provided you play with the "bid for play order" rules rather than the terribly biasing "youngest player goes first". Doesn't take too long, looks nice, has just the right amount of direct foiling of opposition plans, with three players. Seems a bit shallow with only two, and I feel it would be too uncontrolled with four.

So, overall, pretty good. None of these things sucked. And we also inflicted the key moments of David Hasselhoff's performance in Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical on our guest, thus ensuring he will never return... TO SANITY. [22:30] [1 comment]

Tuesday 19 July 2005
After quite a bit of faffing with materials, I made pieces for a boardgame.

Harpy Plotter and the Hat Full of Bees board game

The game is Harpy Plotter and the Hat Full of Bees. The white side is Griffindale, and the green side is Slurpykin. The pieces facing the wrong way are the kings of the sides, Dumbledorm (happy smiley face) and Snopes (angry wobbly face). The numbered pieces are stronger the higher in number they are, so the white 6 is Harpy Plotter, the white 5s are Hermoine and Ben Grimm, and so forth, while the green 6 is Dragon Tinfoil, the green 5s don't have any names because who the hell knows the names of minor baddies, and so on.

That entire paragraph is a big fat lie, anyway, since the game is actually just a minor modification of Admirals (rules), which is itself just a slightly better version of Stratego. The only modification for this nameless game is for towards the endgame, where Admirals becomes annoyingly slow due to generally having to move large numbers of pieces large distances one square at a time. In my rules, a piece may additionally move like a chess rook, provided it doesn't pass through or end in a space adjacent to any opposing piece.

Should anyone else wish to make game pieces like this (they are quite pleasant, tactile-wise), they were made by moulding plaster of paris in icecube trays, then sawing the resultant icecube-shaped pieces in half. The resulting pieces tend to shed plaster-powder on anything they touch, so after the identifiers were drawn on, the white pieces were glazed with a thin air-drying clear glaze, and the green pieces were glazed on their owner-side and painted on all the other sides. (I suggest adding a light dye to the plaster instead of painting, so that all the pieces can just be glazed - just glazing is much easier. The dye should not be food colouring, it turns out, since that never dries even when it's inside dry plaster, and also changes colour after a couple of days.) Mostly I suggest finding some other way to make custom pieces, since plaster was much more work than I expected it to be. [17:14] [1 comment]

Monday 18 July 2005
The Fantastic 4 movie is better than Batman Begins. Slightly worse than Spiderman, and for the same reason - the use of a rather bland baddie. Don't get me wrong, Dr Von Doom is cool, he's just not very spectacular in comparison to, say, Galactus. On the other hand, going straight for a Galactus story would be a bit of a dangerous deviation from the new superhero movie canon - that the first movie must always introduce the excuse for the characters becoming super.

I don't like that canon. I'd rather see "you're already familiar with these guys' backstory, now here's an action-packed plot with some proper villains". X-Men came a little closer to that, by virtue of necessity - you can't introduce a large number of characters' backstories one at a time in one movie. This Fantastic Four at least did better than the other one in that respect, with a fairly cursory and swift skim through the silly science that put them in space and the path of COSMIC RAYS. The only thing the previous failed Fantastic 4 movie did better is Doctor Doom's voice, which is a bit too Anakin and not enough Vader in the new movie.

I was expecting to find the Fantastic 4 pretty crap and still say it was better than Batman Begins. Instead, it was a pleasant mediocrity. But I still can't stress enough how much I thought Batman Begins was rubbish, and that all you people who thought it was great were seduced by subliminal messages or something, because the movie had nothing tangible in its favour. It's clobberin' time, I tell you. [13:15] [0 comments]

Friday 8 July 2005
Look at me, I didn't post anything at all related to the London bombings! Oh damn. [05:15] [7 comments]