Zen Of Design

The design and business of gaming from the perspective of an experienced developer

Month: June 2002 (page 1 of 2)

Grand Theft Auto 3 and Feminism

I’m on a mailing list where there is currently a debate about Grand Theft Auto 3. This is a group that is devoted to women’s issues in games, and they are incensed that GTA3 won the IGDA industry award for Game of the Year this year, calling it a ’slap in the face’ that other developers would vote a game that was so misogynistic to be the GotY. The specific complaint: the fact that you can get sex from a prostitute, and then kill the prostitute to get your cash back, is an insult to all of womankind, and all mankind should be ashamed of themselves. Continue reading

MindArk Battles The Man

More webmasters with too much time on their hands.

How do you spin being busted for using unlicensed software? If you’re Mindark, you say that Microsoft is afraid of the impending cash juggernaut that is Project Entropia. If your response to this is ‘project whaaaa?’, don’t freak, you’re not alone. It gets better. As Waterthread points out, MindArk has threatened to countersue, and put all of the winnings from the case inside of the game, where players will be able to earn a piece of the pie by mining, killing monsters, whatever. You just can’t make up this level of crack.

In other news, all is back to normal in the fishtank. My puffer has not only survived the ordeal, but apparently won’t even have a scar. Right after the fight with the powerhead, it was unclear as to whether or not he would ever see out of his right eye again. However, he’s back to normal now – he’s even beating up on the littler fish again!

A parting question. How do people with piercings in unusual places go through airport security?

Neverwinter Nights Thoughts

Edit in 2014: When I interviewed at BioWare 5 years later, I was somewhat terrified they’d google and find this.


When they say that the game has 120 hours of gameplay in single play mode, is that counting all of the times I’ve replayed the first level because of save and load crashes? Other things to not like about the game: there’s no way to see bad guys down the hall. The only way to see behind walls is to rotate the camera, which results in confusion and disorientation unless you have the large and obnoxious minimap up at all time. The game isn’t that good to look at, with the character models in particular being substandard (seriously, can’t we spend just a bit of our texture memory on making sure faces look good?) The world isn’t nearly as attractive as Baldur’s Gate, as it is all assembled from pieces parts. The story isn’t nearly as good, and the characters lack all of the charm found in the BG series. The radial menus are more confusing than useful. The quests are nonsensical.

And then there’s the henchmen. Actually controlling a henchman is almost non-existent. You can’t tell him to search a door for traps, you just bring him close and hope he feels inspired by it. You can’t tell him to unlock a chest, you have to actually try to open it and have him notice. And if it’s trapped, well, he’ll notice after you take damage. Henchmen also have a penchant for attacking anything they see, even if it is a crowd of baddies much larger than you can take on without strategy. And given that my henchman can apparently see bad guys through walls, he is quite happy in bolting off, getting into a fight, and dying before I’ve had a chance to say “WTF?!?”

I haven’t tried multiplayer yet, and while the game does have flaws, it is admittedly not bad, with Bioware’s usual dedication to quality and balance. I’m just somewhat annoyed at reading all of the reviews that state the game walks on water and heals lepers. It’s not all that, much less the bag of chips.

Puffer Fish Mania

My puffer fish has faced down a 12 inch eel, scared several fish to the point where they icked themselves to death and pulled the claws off of any crustacean I put in the tank, but last night, he finally met his match.

The powerhead.

I installed a new powerhead recently which has a pretty wide lower lip, where it has a significant amount of uptake associated with it. The puffer apparently wandered under it. End result: when I found him last night at 3 AM (and only because I couldn’t sleep), the right side of his face was stuck in the intake.

To his credit, he was pretty calm. His porcupine quills were somewhat erect, but he seemed pretty complacent overall. He does, after all, rule the tank. That’s what puffer’s do. His name is E.T., as he has the same face as the cute, smiling alien, and literature on puffers always start off with something along the lines of “They are popular due to their gentle appearance and dog-like playfulness”. They then conclude with “Don’t put other puffers in there with your puffer. Don’t put shrimp or crabs. Don’t put tangs or triggers. Don’t put any fish in smaller than the puffer. Don’t put in anemones.” Puffers, you see, are playful. They like to play with their food. Pulling off a crab’s legs and watching him try to run away is the sort of thing that E.T. does.

So he was feeling pretty cocky. He figured that there’d be a way out of this. At any rate, I thought I’d help him. I took my net, and tried to gently push him off of the intake. E.T. then decided that this problem was bad enough without this additional complication poking at his ass.

He puffed up to be the size of a grapefruit.

There are those who think that puffing is a stupid defense mechanism. Let me tell you that I, for one, almost shit myself when he did that. Of course, I also have the benefit of knowing that, if puffing fails, puffers will drop a load of poison, which is pretty much capable of killing everyone (including in a small, confined tank, the puffer himself). Someone set us up the bomb, indeed.

So I freaked out. I dropped the net, reached down, and unplugged the tank. The powerhead slowed, and then stopped, and a few minutes away, the puffer drifted away. He still had that happy, silly grin on his face, but some of his porcupine spikes had been pulled erect, and his eye was about half an inch out of place. On a four-inch fish, that can be quite considerable, a theory that was proven when ET attempted to eat food, not swim in circles and get close to the glass without bumping into it. The asymmetrical eye does add a special eerieness to an already somewhat creepy little fish. He now has that inbred, West Virginian look to him.

Fortunately, when I woke up this morning, everyone was still alive, meaning E.T. wasn’t fatally traumatized and he didn’t set us up the bomb. His face has also almost morphed back to normality. Somewhere, though, there are a whole lot of crustaceans laughing at him.


Crazy Hippy Coffee Shop Groupie

I got a new bracelet last night.

The bracelet is the one piece of memorabilia I kept from open mic last night, where I was targetted for love and affection by the Crazy Hippy Coffee Shop Groupie(tm). She is young, cute, totally insane and also possibly a pathological liar to boot.

When she saw me enter the coffee shop, she squealed with delight and ran up and threw her arms around me, where she proceeded to stay for five minutes, until I finally found a crowbar to pry her off. She then gave me a ring, a small silver piece of jewelry which was terrifying to the touch. I decided that that was enough of that, and I thanked her and gave it back to her. This prompted her to begin her favorite past-time, which is to sit next to men who have spurned her advances and cry crocodile tears which seem to stop flowing the moment your attention is somewhere else. The only possible way to deal with this is to ignore her and find a woman to talk to. Most of the other women seem quite annoyed by her, but she hates all women, so she’ll avoid you (she sees a group of men, on the other hand, as a gathering of potential attention sources).

At this point, I’m pretty experienced with dealing with the Crazy Hippy Coffee Shop Groupie(tm). I have statements of her undying love in my song notebook, which she wrote in there the first time she met me (apparently, I made a very good first impression). I loaned her said notebook because when I asked her what she did, she said, “I’m an artist.” The statements of love are accompanied by stick figures and stars that are, to say the least, juvenile in quality.

I will grant its nice to make a good impression, although apparently I’m not unique. You see, when I say ‘Coffee Shop Groupie’, what I mean is that she is the groupie for every male that frequents the coffee shop. Her affections are now so legendary that one of the patrons of the coffee shop in question now greets her with, “Why, hello, you crazy, lying little coffee shop cocktease.”

Anyway, I got a bracelet, which she wove on the spot out of some colored yarn. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the sort of arts and crafts taught in the resident asylum. Most every male in the coffee has one by now.

Cut and Paste Coding Creates Killer Kangaroos

I so desperately want to see a kangaroo with a stinger missile.  This was the result of a cut and paste error in an Australian Air Force virtual reality simulator.

Eager to demonstrate their flying skills for some visiting American pilots, the hotshot Aussies “buzzed” the virtual kangaroos in low flight during a simulation. The kangaroos scattered, as predicted, and the visiting Americans nodded appreciatively… then did a double-take as the kangaroos reappeared from behind a hill and launched a barrage of Stinger missiles at the hapless helicopter. (Apparently the programmers had forgotten to remove that part of the infantry coding.)


Mirror, Mirror…

This is what happens when you only have 4 hours to make a costume for a costume party, but are too obstinate to settle for simply renting a pirate costume like everyone else. The theme of the party: fairy tales (Richard’s birthday party has a theme every year, and those without costumes are not allowed in). Continue reading

Random Ninja Links

One of the nice benefits of being part of Ninjaneering is that everyone sends me random silly ninja links. I wonder at what point Ninjas went from really, really cool to really, really silly. I suspect that it’s around the time that MST3K mystified the pilot episode of the Master, and all of us kids who thought the Master was the coolest thing since, well, the A-Team, discovered just how easily entertained we were as children.

Fortunately, with the announcement of Ninja Boobie Basketball, I feel confident things are heading in the right direction again.

And now Ninjas snarl Detroit traffic.

Fun With The Austin P.D.

Adventures with the finest of the Austin Police Department: I was driving home from open mic with 3-4 beers in my system (consumed over 6 hours — I was fine), when a cop pulled up behind me. I did the usual thing for someone in my situation: started following the speed limit exactly, signaled every lane change, etc, and I breathed a sigh of relief as the cop turned off on some random side street. That’s when I looked up and saw the cat. Continue reading

What Dr. Bartle And Dr. Kiersey Have To Say

Largely because a friend’s site made me curious, I decided to take the Bartle’s test again. The results: my Explorer stat went through the roof. That I’m high on the explorer axis has never been a big surprise. When playing Civ, I become obsessed with clearing away every square of black in the game. Anyway, here are my stats, as of now:

Your type is: EAK. 2% of respondents so far fall into that type. The numbers below represent percentage of how many times you selected a given suite when given the chance. Since there are 15 questions for each suite out of 30 total, the number will add up to 200%. 50% thus means average for each suite, and 100% is the maximum score.Your answers were split as follows:
Explorer 93%
Achiever 40%
Killer 40%
Socializer 26%

Humorously enough, I’m marked as ‘famous’ in their database by the powers that be, from my old results. Previously, I was SEKA (60/53/46/40). Not sure what made my Socializer stat fall down the well. But it’s certainly good news, since my CEO duties for my startup require me to be cordial to all manner of oddballs!

I followed this up with the Keirsey test, which scored me as an INTJ (Introvert/iNtuition, Thinking, Judging), which according to the official site, makes me a Mastermind. I gotta say I like the sound of that. Although I’m not quite so sure I’m the all-powerful man behind the throne this summary describes. However, it will serve me well on my ongoing quest to conquer the known universe.


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