Friday, July 24, 2009

Get Robbed and Die in a Fire

It's been quite a few busy weeks for ol' LiverLips Obama. First he takes a stand that white firefighters should not be employed, then he states that police officers (and white ones in particular) are 'stupid' for doing their jobs. I guess white people must suffer any number of horrors so that ideologues like Obama and their white useful idiots can feel smug about themselves.

His fudged apologies haven't helped his cause and his attempts to stay on the health care topic have bombed since people are more worried about being able to eat in six months than whether or not they feel like paying through the nose to go to the DMV for medical care*. I guess it doesn't help that a lot of people have figured (correctly) that Obama will favor inner city emergency rooms to long term care for the aging (why else would he want to set all the government medical rates? Turn down the 'white' people money knob, turn up the 'NAM'** people money knob).

I'm sure the press didn't mean to put their man in such an awkward position, but if they want to have fun with him in the future they can ask "OJ, innocent or guilty?"

*Watching this fight over national medical care would be like watching me debate for months about whether to buy my own tropical island. In both cases the subject cannot come close to affording it.

**For the uninitiated, NAM = non-Asian minorities

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Local Mog

From here:
Ali was one of seven Minneapolis-area Somali men killed over a 10-month period, and authorities believe all were killed by fellow Somalis.

Somalis killing each other? Who would have been able to see that coming?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bringing your 'B' Game

This review of some rather ancient games will be a two-fer!

God of War II

Enchanted Arms

Movies have it easy. Someone can make a movie for $600,000 and bring in a quarter billion dollars worth of gravy. I remember an interview with one of the heads of the old Humongous Games company some ten years ago where he said that the bare minimum to bring a game to market that would be considered a higher tier product would be a million dollars (though even he seemed to concede that such a game would probably prove lacking). The newer downloadable game scene has opened doors for the makers of less expensive casual games*, but for those who want their game in a DVD case on a retailers shelf the expenses continue to mount.

For developers working on what is referred to as a 'AAA' title some of these cost concerns are mitigated due to publisher support. The original God of War shipped with a short 'making of' video that was unlocked upon beating the game. For God of War II the developers thought so much of their efforts that they put together a series of professional productions totaling around an hour worth of time on the second disk**. The game itself is impressive and as the developers note at the E3 showcase, it looked better on the PS2 than a lot of the first gen titles for the PS3. It's a game that makes no bones about what it is: a showcase first party game with lots of over the top sets and violence that would only appeal to a male audience.

Just playing through the game I could see that almost no detail is left untuned and that the game must have been a massive development effort. The developer interviews detail late nights, constant tuning and a passion for quality artwork and presentation, in short, a single minded obsession to put out one of the best games of all time. Costs are of course a concern and the 'making of' details some dumped levels and concepts, but by and large Sony wanted what did make it into the game to be top flight, and they succeeded in their effort.

But what about studios without suckers for shareholders who are willing to take a bath on their stock to 'sell a game that sells consoles'? What, if any corners can be cut? More importantly, is it possible to make a 'B movie' type of video game, a 'B game' as it were?

A little while ago I was looking around on Penny Arcade's site looking for a Final Fantasy XII reference (what it was and why I was looking for it I cannot recall) but the top post in their system for my search was Gabe berating a critic for not liking a game called Enchanted Arms. Since I was in between games and had an RPG jonesin', I picked it up (it's pretty cheap used). When I started playing it I noticed right away that although some parts were strong, if a corner could be cut it was. Entire environments would be rendered with a handful of textures, villagers were all lifeless pallet swaps, and although Final Fantasy games occasionally feel overly directed, this game felt like it was on rails, especially for an RPG. Lastly (and 'worstly'), instead of the lush, orchestrated God of War II soundtrack that was recorded in three different countries, Enchanted Arms featured the single worst soundtrack of any game I've played since the Atari 2600. It has a small handful of OK songs, that you will hear repeatedly, and many more horrible tunes that were no doubt produced by someone on the dev team whose only musical experience was recorder lessons in second grade (needless to say I ended up muting the game for long stretches).

For all it's faults though the game seems to work. Instead of a bevy of unfocused characters the tight roster fleshes out the players more roundly*** than many other RPGs. Since the game expects you to go from point A to point B and not wander around, there's a bare minimum of grinding. Lastly, since the developers knew that they weren't bringing much to the game, they made sure the battle system and story were pretty good.

So yes it's possible to make a 'B game' but it's difficult since it's a short path from there to unplayable Wii style shovelware; video games just aren't very tolerant to a lot of cutbacks. If Enchanted Arms cut out dialog or story, or cheaped out on the battle system the game would have gone from okay to horrible (as opposed to God of War II which probably could have cut 10% of the corners and no one would have noticed). What I thought was interesting was that Tycho at Penny Arcade thought it was possible as well and as a reference he pointed out a game made by From Software, which just so happened to make Enchanted Arms as well. So I doubt that any From Software games will feature a 'making of' feature like the one that shipped with God of War II; if it did I would envision profiles of developers who left work early to play pachinko and artists who just carried over half the assets from some PlayStation 2 game that they made five years earlier.

*Jonathan Blow, well known developer of the game Braid notes that making a casual game can be free so long as you don't mind living in your mom's basement for three years.

**It shows what a gaming nerd I am that I enjoyed the 'making of' features nearly as much as the game itself.

***I need to point out that this game also had the most flagrantly gay characters of any game probably ever. It's one thing to be a flaming homo, it's quite another for the character to spend most of his on-screen time sexually harassing (sometimes physically!) one of the other male characters. Such things are such the joke JapanLand.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

3/5ths of a Deer

A senile black woman who beat a dear to death is all over the news in Northeast Ohio. The latest is that she will be charged to the fullest extent of the law for animal cruelty.

About a half an hour south a black mob nearly beats two white people to death. The news? Silent. The police? Asleep.

In the same town (Akron) a couple of black slime buckets nearly kicked a dog to death while robbing a house. The press ran stories to get donations in an effort to save the poor pooch (who eventually had to be put down). Police were sure to get the animal cruelty charges on the book for the suspects.

It's probably not enough to expect white people to get an equal footing with blacks (God only knows the holy hell that would be unleashed if a white mob beat nearly beat two black people to death); but how about equal footing with animals?

Monday, July 06, 2009

More Health Care Idiocy

From here:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., compared requiring all Americans to have health insurance with mandating that drivers carry auto insurance.

"We want everybody in the system," Hoyer said. "That will bring costs down."
Only in CONgressworld does driving up the demand for a scarce resource decrease the costs. Part of their master plan for costs reduction is to pay doctors less for patient maintenance; so while they are driving up demand for doctors, which would ordinarily drive up the price, they are attempting a price control where they give a pittance of a reimbursement rate. Although people who don't have mashed potatoes for brains already knows where this leads, since Massachusetts already has a idiotic system like this we also have a real world example of, surprise, SHORTAGES:
The 47-year-old single mother has advanced Lyme disease, and she can't find a primary care doctor to oversee her care. She's called half a dozen practices in three towns, and none are accepting new patients. So when problems come up, even routine ones, she comes to the emergency room. Each time, she goes through her medical history with the intake nurse.
AMAZING! Who would have seen that coming?!?!? I mean, besides the morons in Congress and their illiterate supporters? Word on the street is that the only way this might be patched to work in the short run is to force doctors to dedicate a certain percentage of their case load to government insured patients.

On top of that, one idea floated was to charge companies with more than 25 employees a fine of $750 a year per employee to cover their employees government insurance. Much has been over this added cost, but I had the opposite reaction. I figured it was only a matter of time before I was forced into ObamaCare since my workplace spends more than $750 to cover one month of our private insurance. Other workplaces will come to the same conclusion and will happily saddle the Feds with their costs, bloating the program well beyond it's funding capabilities. Supposedly Congress fixed it to prevent employers from doing just that, but we are talking Congress here so I highly doubt it's effectiveness.

New Juarez

Has anyone followed the Drudge linked stories on Chicago? Like Bloody Weekend: 8 Dead, Dozens Wounded:
At least eight people were killed and some two dozen others were wounded over the [July 4th] weekend. Four of the victims lost their lives during a bloody six hours late Saturday and early Sunday.
In a different story a doctor at a single Chicago hospital said that they "see probably an average of between 10 and 15 people who get shot or stabbed every night".

The makeup of the troubled areas, victims and perpetrators is pretty predictable; but still, have they just given up on policing and locking up criminals?