Computer Games Imported From Epistula

Pathologicly insane

Hmm. I appear to have depressed the bird man again. I entered one of the sick, blistered, pulsating buildings and got stabbed up by a short ninja.

I’m not entire sure why.

I’ve just been introduced to the existence of a game called “Pathologic”, which has been warping my brain for a little while now.

To describe Pathologic as weird would be an understatement of the “golly, that sky’s a bit high up, isn’t it?”, “Pluto, eh? bit nippy”, “That crack cocaine stuff’s a bit moreish” school. So you have this game of abstract concepts, non-obvious plotlines and surreal suggestion, wrapped up in a tissue of self-awareness. One of the interesting things about the idea of story and style in games is that the industry has a tendency to ignore hundreds of years of theatrical style and study in favour of duplication of modern Hollywood styles or reinventing the wheel, in this we have a startlingly different – almost Artaudian – level of unreality. So this starts off in a weird place to begin with.

Then you have the fact that I’m playing the demo, which apparently drops you in on day 4 of the character’s adventures. In fact, you’re dropped in at the start of Act 4, which starts with a symbolic play about the events of the previous day in game time, after which (unless you leave early) you pick which character to play. The demo only has one character you can play, out of three.

The game, incidentally, boasts 24 hours of game play per character, and different plots per character, so 72 hours solid game play, so, that’s Day 4, or halfway into the story, with an introduction of what happened the day before, but no grander plot exposition. Which is weird.

Then we get into the plot exposition, which explains who your character is. He then kills some people. This apparently all happens before the game starts (as in, before the full game starts, not just the demo). Then we leap back into Day 4.

All of this is presented in a translation from the original Russian which meanders from the beautifully poetic though the gardens of mildly confusing and into the mud of the entirely incomprehensible. Often in the same sentence. So, you have a game that is designed to confuse you, wrapped in language you can’t decipher, and you’re dumped into the middle of the plot.

If I can work though the problems (I haven’t even started on the game play, you’ll notice) it could be worth my while to go though it, just to see how glorious the story and the game could become. Apparently the German translation is awesome, and the original Russian is wonderful. And, of course, I need an excuse to learn Russian…

I suspect I’m going in search of the full game of this one…

… for a slightly more well-rounded review of the full game, try the inimitable John Walker’s Eurogamer review.

Current Affairs Imported From Epistula internet

Freedom of Cycling

So. I was checking my comics this morning (Or the important ones right now, which are Narbonic, Schlock, QC & S*P) when I saw on the latter an advert for, an organisation devoted to small groups of people in various local areas who give things they don’t want to each other instead of chucking them out.

Golly, I thought, first tea still unfinished, that sounds familiar. Isn’t that what Freecycle do?

You may not be familiar with Freecycle, but that is, basically, what they do. Or, actually, that is What Freecycle Is. A Freecycle List is a list on Yahoo Groups where people give things to each other. Upon a little research I discovered that Freecycle itself is a trademark of a non-profit organisation with corporate sponsorship.

And by “Research”, I mean “I read their web site”. This is the modern meaning of the word, as far as I can tell.

So The Freecycle Network is an organisation which is basically a directory of mailing lists hosted on someone else’s technology with volunteers running them about people giving things away for free. What could anyone possibly object to enough so go so far as to set up a rival? All they can do is have the name.

Oh. Right.

Freecycle, who have seen what is happening with the verb to google (look at the link very carefully for bonus irony points) have decided to Take Action, and said

In legalese, the use of the term ‘Freecycle’ denotes a gifting service which is officially approved by the nonprofit organization ‘The Freecycle Network,’ and one that the public can expect to adhere to certain standards. The Freecycle Network must approve any e-mail list or web site that uses the term ‘Freecycle’ in its name and provides any sort of exchange service. (A relevant point for us to note internally is that we have to demonstrate a “concerted” effort.

Cite, plus bonus ‘How you should talk bout FC’ stuff

Grist have a good story on the Freecycle group turning into arseholes. Note that up until recently the Freecycle home page talked about freecycling.

I’m torn on this. On the one side, I can see the group wants to protect its trademark. On the other, it’s basically saying “That thing about the process being ‘freecycling’? Yeah, we’ll sue you for that now”. Also, whereas Google is a huge corporate entity now, I’m not entirely sure why Freecycle – a movement devoted to giving things away for free and using other people’s (freely given) resources to do so – is becoming one.

Computer Games Imported From Epistula Projects Work


So, yes, updates.

Shit happens, as it tends to. Having been working on a redesign of AqCom for eight months, having shelved three and dumped two entirely, it looks like the stuff on the horizon is going to render all that work moot for the time being.

Yeah, I’m being cryptic. You’ll see what I mean on Friday.

Talking of Cryptic, I was playing City of Villains earlier. I was on a “Clear all heroes” mission and had cleared everything that stood still, but was waiting for the patrols to find me so I could wipe them out too.

They didn’t find me. That is, I stood in the middle of the corridor, blask smoke surrounding me, golden sparks from my feet, and the patrol skulked around me. I do believe the wouldn’t have noticed me at all had I not set them on fire.

Villain, remember.

I’m trialing World Of Warcraft again. After the ease of teaming and working and… everything that City of Heroes gives you, I’m finding the idea of attempting to build an entire social interface for a game as big as WoW on a substandard IRC client hellish. “LFG L31 Pally F RFD” pops up in the chat window. LFG… looking for group, yes. L31 Pally? Oh, Paladin. I’m one of those. Not L31 yet… RFD? Real fucking donkeys? Ready for domination? Red Flowers Die? Alt-Tab GoogleGoogle Razorfen Downs. Right. Ignore that then…

How is this the most popular game in the universe again?

Discworld (Specifically Vetinari) Art. Good

I’m writing a game, again. Or, rather, I’m writing the same game I was designing a couple of years ago. It’s a web-based racing-car management thing, with the selling point being scheduled races you can watch online, and change strategy as it goes if you like. It should be cool.

Right now, however, I have to work out exactly how the damn thing works from the high-concept downwards. Currently it’s got A basic page and the world’s most whimsical signup page.

Right now, however, I’m attempting to design a non-deteministic transparent yet non-linier points based research system which will be obvious in its calculations yet occasionally suprising and easy to use without being exploitable.

It’s suprisingly not as easy as it sounds.

AFP Imported From Epistula weblog


Am back from con.

Had fun.

Dead now.

Imported From Epistula Movies

Snakes on a plane

Imported From Epistula Moving to Beford


My flat came with a sofabed. I am exactly the wrong height for it, since it places my shoulders exactly where the big wooden plank of the front of the sofa is, the bar across the middle where my hips want to be, and my feet poking out the end. I slept on it for three months.

Someone in one of the flats around me decided to throw out an entire three piece suite around marchish, and decided to place it around the back of the block, where it would never ever be taken away. I looked at it for a while, because it was quite a nice suite (It was blue, anyway. I am a man of simple tastes) but it wouldn’t have fitted in my flat.

Not “It wouldn’t have gone with the curtians”, or even “I wouldn’t have been able to reach the windows”, the chairs wouldn’t have fitted though the door, the sofa would have taken up the entire floorspace. I do not have a large flat.

So I stole the cushions. Well, I left it for a few days to see if anyone was going to take the thing away entirely, or set fire to it, or send it to freecycle. Then I took the cushions and built a small fort.

I am 25 going on 9.

The pile of cushions is now my bed. It contains the cushions, two duvets, six pillows a blanket and a sleeping bag.

It is the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in.

Imported From Epistula music

Things to do with treadmills, Episode One

This is the video for Ok, Go‘s single “Here it goes again”.

Imported From Epistula Movies Personal

Miami Fixed Holding Bracket


Today has been stressful, partly because I’ve apparently done something unforgivable, which I cannot apologise for because I’m being mass ignored and I don’t know what it is. I’d like to know what it is so I can a) stop doing it, b) not do it again or c) change what I’m doing so I’m doing it differently. Assuming none of these are breathing, writing or walking.

Then I went to eat sushi – which was an all you can eat buffet and was Very Nice Indeed – and watch Miami Vice. The sushi, as I said, was nice. The film…

The film had many sex scenes, two of which happened in showers. You are not supposed to get bored of sex scenes.

The film had many action scenes, mostly with little idea of who you were watching being shot.

The film had a plot which contained: Spies, Crossing, Lies, Counter-Spies, Drugs, Sex, Double-crossing, Sunglasses, Counter-Counter-Spies, Bearded evil people, Non-bearded good people, Sex, Double-crossing, Aeroplanes, Fast cars, Fast boats, Fast women, Fast bombs, Fast guns, Slow motion, More sunglasses, Sex, Crossing, Sextuple Crossing, Showers, Yet more drugs, Yet more crossing, White supremacists, the FBI, The bad-guy with the greatest view ever, A complete lack of the final death of the major bad guys, unrequitable love, drinking responsibly, sunglasses, sex and a big neon sign labeled “Fast sequel approaching”.

I may have lied about the drinking.

All this tied up in two and bit hours of non-stop sludge. This is not a film to pay any attention to whatsoever.

There were no reptiles (or liquids) on the aeroplanes.

Imported From Epistula PHP

T Paamayim Nekudotayim

Lesson of the day, PHP calls the ”::” – used to identify an uninstantiated class function – a Paamayim Nekudotayim.

A day when you learn something is a day not wasted.

Imported From Epistula LUGRadio programming

Free as in Mortgage Repayment

Okay, so in the first (zeroth?) hashlugradio broadcast, I put forth the view that the OS business model treated the programmers time as worthless. I wasn’t called upon it in the broadcast, but have been since. This is what I mean:

I am an individual programmer – not part of a massive company – I believe whole-heartedly in the Free/Open Source Movement. I scratch itches. I spend my time programming. I give away the results. I do not get paid for this.

How do I pay my rent?