|The Election, Part 1
Tuesday, November 9, 2004 2:13 PM
I tried to see if I could shoehorn the reactions from the hard left I
was seeing into the standard "5 stages of grief" that most people are
familiar with (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance). No,
it wasn't quite working (especially with the lack of "bargaining").
They've come up with their own stages, it seems.
First did come Denial. This is what first led me to try this
experiment. To be fair, a lot of fault for this can be placed onto the
terribly skewed exit polling data that seems to have been leaked early.
And all the mainstream news outlets use the same company for their exit
polling, so they all came up with the same numbers. "Let's just wait
for all the votes to be counted," the Democrats said when the actual
precincts started reporting in and things looked good for Bush. "How
could W carry Ohio? Inconceivable!" Some are still in this stage.
I think what I saw following denial was mainly Depression. People
dazed and shocked, saying how sad they were and how much they wanted to
cry. Or at least move to Canada. This stage appeared to actually be
Next comes Blame, smashing through depression rather quickly. The
great thing about this stage is how scattershot different Democrats have
been in assigning blame:
"It's Kerry's fault, because he wasn't a good candidate. Yeah, I never
really liked him to begin with. He didn't listen to his advisors. He
really did flip-flop a lot. You could never know where he stood on a
position. He said different things to different people."
"Kerry lost because of his campaign managers. They were incompetent.
Bush ran a much better campaign."
"You can blame this all on the Republicans for brainwashing people into
believing all their nonsense. Kerry is a saint, but those damn Bushies
made up all these lies and they're responsible for this travesty."
"Those Swift Boat veterans did this. It's all their fault."
"Those red-state voters have ruined our country."
Then there's the Anger. Oh boy, is there the anger. For example, read
rant from a London "news site". Or this recent
"protest". Or this other
recent protest. Or this site, which is not too fond
of southern states (conveniently ignoring both the non-southern states
that backed Bush and plenty of facts that counter his points). Or any
of the savage diatrabes delivered wherever the hard left gathers en
masse. "Red-necked racist bigots." "Ignorant homophobes." "Retarded
religious fundamentalist hicks." Apparently you can't vote for Bush
unless you are, in some manner, mentally defective or fascist. A vote
for Bush (apparently) means you hate blacks, that you hate gays, that
you hate poor people, that you want to kill abortionists. Ah, so
this is the famous leftist tolerance I'd heard so much about!
(I guess everyone should cut them some slack; the wounds are still raw.
But I don't have a lot of patience for idiocy. More Democrats backed
Bush (11%) than Republicans backed Kerry (6%). Those Bush voters who
considered "Moral Values" the most important issue made up only 17.6% of
voters and even this encompasses a wide range of issues.)
Some have already started on the Accusations. "The voting machines
were rigged." "Voter intimidation! Disenfranchisement!" "They did it
again. They stole another election." In fact, there is growing
discussion over voting irregularities across the nation. Of course,
these happen every election, but only since 2000 has anyone actually
cared. Not that they are excusable; it's embarrassing that after all
this time, we still can't run a flawless election. The problem is that
you're going to see lefties obsessing over every possible,
theoretical extra vote for Bush in the "red" states while ignoring
every single irregularity that occurs in a state that went to Kerry.
Why don't we fix the system so we can stop worry about it at all?
Final stage: Acceptance? Maybe. For some, though, there will never be
acceptance. For nearly all of them, I think, the final stage will be
determination. A drive to win in 2008.
(Updated Tuesday, November 9, 2004 2:20 PM)
Tuesday, November 2, 2004 11:47 AM
With Evil Genius and Farcry completed, I've returned to my retro list
once again. This time it's StarCon 2, the classic sequel that's part
RPG and part space combat action. This is all possible on a modern
Windows XP system through the use of DOSBox
, a DOS emulator that,
so far, has run StarCon 2 perfectly. This really is a classic great
game, with imagination and humor combined with a sense of wonder,
exploration, and achievement. Though it pre-dates the widespread use of
digitized voice work, it does have some good sound effects and great use
of different styles of music (each race has their own kind).
You can download StarCon2 from Abandonia.
Tuesday, November 2, 2004 11:31 AM
The demo got me itching for Evil Genius. Hell, it got me itching for
Dungeon Keeper, so I played some DK2 goodness while I waited. Once I
finally got to Evil Genius, I found a game with a good idea but some
poor design decisions.
This is actually a pretty long game, considering the situation. Unlike
DK2, it's not a series of scenarios. It's one long main objective,
achieved by completing a series of smaller objectives (many of which
have their own smaller objectives). Near the end, you will get a chance
to relocate to a second island with a much larger space for building,
but unfortunately it also has greater distances to the depots, which
means construction projects take longer.
Base design is one of the strong points. It's quite enjoyable to plan
your layout and decide what kind of design you want. Something geared
towards presenting an innocent front to agents that sneak in? Entrances
that lead to a series of traps for disabling or killing agents? Or
something ultra efficient, designed for speed and easy access? Each has
its strengths and its weaknesses. My own design was a mix of the latter
two. My three entrances had non-lethal traps for disabling intruders.
I had a number of "honeypot" entrances: the doors in lead to corridors
of traps which end at a door leading back out.
Minion specialization worked out pretty well. The problem was that,
with the minion cap hard set at 100, it was too hard to keep a lot of
highly specialized minions, and it was far far too easy to have them all
killed by super-agents. Any time one of your highly specialized types
is completely wiped out, you need to go through the hassle of kidnapping
one and torturing him all over again. How often does this happen? Much
more often than I thought reasonable. The problem is that you can't
mandate that they make training underlings a priority. Your marksmen
and martial arts masters respond to every kill tag, just like guards and
mercenaries. Your diplomats and playboys will try to shmooze agents
tagged for weakening, just like their less-skilled spin doctors and
valets. The problem is, of course, that performing these duties is
rather hazardous. If I had a nickel for every time a super-agent went
absolute batshit and murdered all of my social minions for no goddamn
reason, I'd be a rich man.
Yeah, super-agents. This was an intriguing idea with an implementation
that led to more frustraiton than any other aspect of the game.
Super-agents are special advanced agents that cannot be killed through
normal means. Only late in the game can you find out the secrets needed
to stop them permanently. Super-agents also have special powers that
they can use against you and your minions. The worst, John Steele, can
actually change your alert levels, reset all of your security doors to
the lowest level, and start random fires in your base. And he does this
all at once. Any time he wants. The problem here is that super-agents
get freaked by the most minor things, and then they start killing
everyone in sight. Even having a hoarde of social minions sapping their
attention is no guarantee of avoiding their wrath. Trying to distract
agents like this really drains the minions' endurance. So eventually,
they get too tired to keep it up. This assumes, of course, that the
super-agent doesn't just up and kill them before (or right after) they
get a chance to do their thing. If this wasn't bad enough, there were
times where I had 3 super-agents roaming my island at once. Killing
with abandon. Blowing up shit left and right.
So, in the end, the only way I could continue playing the game was to
cheat. I discovered a way to raise my minion max to 200, allowing me to
specialize more. There's also a cheat that makes most agents (and all
super-agents) leave the island after only a very brief time of looking
around. Once I took advantage of these, I was able to actually focus on
completing various "Acts of Infamy" and working towards the final
Replay value? Very little. The game progression, as far as I can tell,
will be fundamentally the same for all sessions. Differences will be
minor: your choice of avatar, your choice of henchmen, your choice of
base design, your choice of final doomsday weapon. I might try playing
again with a very very innocent-looking base with a focus on hiding
nerfarious objects deep inside. Even then, I expect that I'll
eventually have to rely on the cheat again, just to keep from quitting
the game in frustration. Like I said, this game is a great idea marred
by some poor implementation decisions.
|Jagged Alliance 2
Monday, September 20, 2004 12:46 PM
Yesterday I finished Jagged Alliance 2 after a considerable number of
enjoyable retro hours spent playing the game. The game itself plays a
little like Fallout 2 without the role-playing aspect; in other words,
it is a squad-level tactical wargame. You can control multiple squads
of units, each squad consisting of up to 6 members. Outside of combat,
the game plays in real-time at the tactical level (inside a town, for
example), or can be be played in fast-forward while viewing the
strategic map, which displays all of the towns and areas between them.
Combat is done turn-based, with each unit having a certain number of
action points that can be spent attacking, moving, or interacting with
The game contains a nice variety of modern weapons to select from.
Handguns, submachine guns, rifles, and light machine guns are pretty
well represented in a few standard calibers (9mm, .45 ACP, .357 Magnum,
5.56mm, 7.62mm Soviet, 7.62mm NATO). I found some 5.7mm ammo for the FN
P90 and some 4.73mm ammo for the HK G11, though neither of the guns
actually turned up.
Your units are either straight-up mercenaries (recruited through a
pretty humorous send-up of the World-Wide Web) or NPCs that have agreed
to join your cause. Equipment is either purchased through a similar
web-based system or it is found on the battlefield. This is, in fact,
where you'll get nearly all of your supplies. The web page supplier
generally offers new, advanced equipment only days, weeks, or months
after you've discovered it on your own (it's really best for ammo and
other basic supplies that are used regularly). This means that your own
squads are often outmatched from a technical standpoint. You have to
rely on better tactics and intelligence in order to win.
The game has a single goal, though there are a few side-quests that pop
up from time to time. Most of these come up through the game's very
crude conversation system that allows you to (try to) communicate with
the few named NPCs you can find in various locations. The talk system
was one of the game's major weaknesses: I like that the developers tried
to incorporate some RPG-aspects into the game, but the player is given
very little indication as to what the various conversation choices will
do. Your only options are "Friendly", "Direct", and "Threaten", or you
can try give the NPC an object, or attempt to recruit him or her. As
for what these choices really in a practical sense only becomes apparent
after you use them.
The game's most serious problem, however, was its bugginess. This was
especially disappointing considering that this was a re-release of the
game, with a new version number. Very rarely could I get through an
extended play time (an hour or two) without the game crashing. Did it
have anything to do with an older game and XP incompatibilities?
Possibly. There were also a number of in-game bugs that popped up that
could not be explained away so easily. Squad member orders would often
randomly shuffle after a reload (there's no way to manually reorder a
team in combat or on the move). Infinite loops popped up occasionally
in the turn-based combat, usually when the AI units seemed with be
"thinking", though every so often the game would display a clock and
freeze on my own turn.
Jagged Alliance 2 is a great game for squad-level wargamers and fans of
the combat-side of Fallout 2. In spite of its problems, it really drew
me in and had me in Obsessive Mode (tm). I'd often be at the computer
in the morning, before work, even if I could only get in 5 minutes of
play time. This would tide me over until after work, when I'd get home
and immediately bring my computer out of hibernate and start the game up
again. It's a shame it took me until now to find out what a great game
JA2 is. Now I have to see about the add-ons "Unfinished Business" and
"Wildfire", and the various total conversion mods out there.
(Updated Monday, September 20, 2004 12:52 PM)
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