WazHack : Initial Review

I had dreamed of a game like this once, while hallucinating and battling a gelatinous blob as I randomly teleported around a level, desperately searching for food, or some way to take off cursed a ring of levitation so I could finally descend further into the dungeon.

Games come in various levels of difficulty. Nowadays, this constantly shifting difficulty level is a feature of many top developers (witness Diablo 3 2.0). Back in the old days it was different. They didn’t have billions of processor cycles and trillions of bits upon which to store their results and speculations. Processing power was costly, storage was scarce and slow, and limits like those create difficulties that a sliding scale can never match.

Nethack is a game that is nearly as old as my sentience, the former having come into existence three years after the latter. [ http://www.nethack.org/ ] It’s one of those games I turn to when nothing else was particularly interesting, or I needed a bit of humbling. The first few trips down the dungeon end badly for you. There’s no way around that. After ten or twenty tries things start to make sense, and you start to develop strategies on how to stay alive. How to decide what potions to drink and what scrolls to read…remembering quite vividly the characters you lost to recklessly imbibing everything you came across.

Sure, that amulet you just found *could* be an amulet of regeneration, or even one of resurrection…but it could also be a cursed amulet of strangulation, both impossible to breath through or take off.

Such were the conundrums of Nethack, which is why I have always described it as “Diamond Hard”. There’s no easy level. There’s no “beginner”. No “I’ve never played an RPG before”, or “I’ve played a couple RPGs” mode. Or even “Nightmare” or “Bring it On” option. No, back in the day it was simpler.

There was only life and death. There’s only one mode…Nethack. You have one character. You play it until it dies. No “real time” or any other nonsense, the game doesn’t move until you do, but the game does move *every time* you do. If you can run faster, you can run away. If you can’t, you die. You get to sit there, and think about it. Think about *every thing you do*, knowing there is *probably* a way to survive, but most likely you will die.

And eventually you do.*

Then you decide if you can face the emotional toll again to start over. All those decisions, and even then you couldn’t save him/her from the perils of the dungeons. If only you had, or you had that, or had gone this way, or read that, or who knows what. If only….

When I *can’t* face that loss again…that’s when I set Nethack aside for a while. Sometimes it is just too hard to play. Sometimes those simple decisions that served you well in the past just got your character killed.

Such is life, such is Nethack.

So now you are saying…wait…RPN…I thought this was supposed to be about “WazHack”, or something…why are you talking about a nearly 30 year old text-based game?

That’s because “WazHack” is a modern retelling of an ancient (by gaming standards) story. Because WazHack gets it right. Because it has better graphics (relative terms), and now I know what a “rothe” is supposed to be. It’s not like I haven’t tried clones before…I have whole “Nethack” directory on my gaming page on my linux-based palm computer (calling it a “phone” is such a misnomer at this point)…but this one NAILS IT.

If you have ever tried or enjoyed Nethack, WazHack is for you. If you like HARD games, like “Diamond” hard, WazHack is for you. If you wonder why any game has anything *other than* a Hardcore mode, WazHack is for you.

It’s not for everyone, but if you like this kind of thing, WazHack is the one you want to spend your time exploring.

* or you Win…which I have yet to do with Nethack.

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Playing Any PC game on your Phone? Coming Sooner than you think…

The application is called Kainy and was brought to our attention in a comment on the Minecraft: Pocket Edition update article we wrote yesterday. This application is a 2 part program, one part being the actual application for your Android device (the client), and the other being for your PC which streams your games to you as it runs them (the server). Essentially this is your own OnLive network for your own PC games to play on your Android devices.

via Meet Kainy, the application that lets you play PC games on your Android device anywhere.

This is pretty dang awesome.  Letting your phone act as a simple terminal means mostly what it wants is bandwidth, which wifi and/or 4g can bring in spades.

Testing report coming soon…

Battlefield 3 : Unboxing, Downloading, and Hardcore Mode

RPN is officially up to spec when it comes to games.  It has been something of a struggle to keep up in the ever crushening economy, but as per, it’s worth it.  Proof of point is in the following two videos.  This is significant as to the level of “virtual reality” 12.4 GHZ of processing power tied together with 8GB of superfast memory (2 of it dedicated solely to drawing and physics) can create in real time (for under $1G, mind you, 27″  monitor included ).   Computers of similar abilities will cost about half this much in 18 months, and be called consoles once again.

But enough preamble, RPN Gaming is live once again.  Here’s the proof.

Normally I like to try and finish a game before doing a full review. In this case, if you think about war as hardcore mode.  Here’s my full Battlefield 3 experience.

NOTE: The above video is also a nod to the curious, and some may say “flippant” nature of the curious crossover of the content of this site…that is…international politics and video games.   While the events portrayed and the re-imagined in the gaming world are never to be confused as the real thing, they can often offer a visceral insight into the nature of certain real life events.

Hardcore mode…IRL there’s no turning it off.

SIDENOTE: For some damn reason EA makes you install Origin (their “Steam-alike”) in order to install and play Battlefield 3.  This is, IMHO, utter crap.  It crashed updating, and wouldn’t let me install from the DVD’s forcing a 5-hour download of  a game I bought at the store.  Not to mention that, as present, Origin is in freaking BETA.   For those not familiar with software code words, that means “it crashes a lot and for no apparent reason, use with caution.”  As that software is the foundation of the B3 experience…right now it sucks.

Goemon : Pirate Ninja (movie review)

I was wandering through the new flicks on Netflix this weekend when I ran into this listing.

Based on a Japanese folk legend that echoes the tale of Robin Hood, this ninja thriller follows the exploits of Goemon Ishikawa (Yôsuke Eguchi), who leaves his fighting clan after its chief is murdered and uses his skills as a thief to help the poor. But after learning the identity of his leader’s killer — the traitorous XXXXXXX (Eiji Okuda) — Goemon sets out on a bloody path of vengeance, joined by his loyal friend, XXXXXXX (Takao Ôsawa)

[note: I XXX’ed a couple spoilers there.]    If you have a Netflix account, or want to sign up for the free trial, you can do so here and watch the movie.

So…why this movie review and a blatant advertisement for Netflix?   Umm, this movie is the most ninja thing I’ve ever seen.   For someone who thought the concept of a Robot Pirate Ninja was pretty cool, seeing a movie about a Pirate Ninja is a welcome experience.   Double that with the knowledge that they nailed the general attitude (as evidence by the titular character) and dedication one must have for this kind of work, and this movie is already nearing the limits of potential awesomeness.

Tell that whole story over a backdrop of action and effects that brings to mind both Dragonball Z and 300, and you’ve got a winner in my book. An epic one.    There were probably five or six scenes in this movie where the only appropriate response is, “Oh wow, that’s sooo ninja.”

So if you enjoy watching ninjas wreck shit on screen, and have been waiting for a (mostly) live action feature focused one how totally freakin’ ninja one guy can be, Goemon is the flick for you.

A Quick Note About the Stimulus Package

Been seeing and hearing a lot of lamentations lately about the stimulus package.  A lot of them seem to be nebulous complaints not focused on the actual legislation, but more of the ideological whining that plagues our Democracy.

After actually looking at a nice, objective, analysis of what’s in the package (which you can read here) I came up with a short comment.

600,000 teachers get to keep their jobs.

If one were to “stimulate” the Green Energy industry, one would get a tax cut.

If one were to “stimulate” the auto industry, one would get a tax cut.

If one were to buy a new home, one would get a tax cut.

In one were on unemployment, this provides more money to keep the lights on and keep looking for work. And keeps health insurance for a little while longer.

If one makes less than $100G or so, one gets $400. Two as one (married couples) get $800.

If one is in environment science, there are 100,000 new jobs to be had.

If one likes cops and firefighters, they get some cash too. In order to keep hiring and keep away the growing number of theives (a “recession” creates more people who have to chose between stealing bread and watching kids go hungry).

If one is headed to college (or has kids headed there), more money.

And yes, the 14% of Americans who are poor get a bit too.  Hopefully to give their kids a chance at a better life.  Headstart has a wonderful record for doing this, and toddler care (as mentioned here) is one way to help those trying to make the transition from poverty to being able to consistently pay the bills.

In essence and in act, Obama has done the start of what he promised to do, focus on the Middle Class and the Poor.   Bush’s tax cuts for the rich are, at least IMHO, part of what led to the economic collapse of the banking sector, as a great deal of money flowed into a deregulated system which artificially inflated house prices.  A big part of the problem was that the mortgage industry was divorced from actually holding the pieces of paper they signed, and all the crap flowed from them onto the books of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (who, with the quasi-governmental status were assumed to be “Good for it.”)

For a while there, it was possible to not have any real income, or less than one would need, and get a $250,000 note (financed by a $25,000 loan for the downpayment) on the ASSUMPTION that house prices would continue their meteoric rises.   At the base of most crises are flawed assumptions, and this one was no different.

The point of the stimulus bill is to stimulate people to spend money in good ways that will pay more dividends down the road.  The tax cuts of investing in energy-saving technology being one of the main points in that regard, as it both stimulates that industry, increasing the potential for future advancements and cost savings, and focuses on one of the areas that America needs to address the quickest to return to a more stable economy…our general lack of energy efficiency.

As to me personally, this stimulus package does nothing directly.  While I’m in the job market looking for a job, I am not taking unemployment, so I miss that.  Without a job, I don’t get the $400 tax cut.  Without spending money I don’t have, I don’t get the other tax breaks.  I’m not a teacher or a cop or a firefighter, so those are out.  I don’t take food stamps, so no luck there.  I don’t have a toddler in day care as a single parent, so again, nothing for me.

However, given the nature of our current problems and the scope of the hole we are in (Thanks, dude) the package as a whole seems to be on the right track, getting money into the hands of people that will spend it, and encouraging people with money in their pockets to spend it.

One of the biggest problems in this kind of economic situation is those with money refuse to spend it, worried about the future.  As things get tighter, fists get tighter, and the cycle continues.   The hope is to change the attitude and reverse the spiral toward the bottom.

Yes, I used hope and change in that last sentence for a reason, because we need both to recover quickly.  And peace, we probably need that too.

Hope, peace, and change.   Those are words I most certainly believe in.

UPDATE: If anybody would like to economically stimulate me, there’s some places to do that above.   Eating is fun, but one of those big bills that get smaller when the money dries up.  Hence the nature of “belt-tightening” during a rough economy.  We all need to tighen our belts and trim our waistelines (and wastelines…cable news…I’m looking at you) a bit more during a downturn.  If every American (who needs to..at least 31% of us) lost 20 pounds, we would save billions on healthcare, look better, and get smarter (all things we need to do in order to compete better in flat world).

The Best (and Worst) Superbowl Ever

American Honeys

American Honeys

So I went to my favorite pub/sports pub to do some liveblogging for the Superbowl.

As football is about as close as I come to organized religion, the Superbowl is a big day for me.  A Super Party, if you well.   I had picked my location in the bar early and spent most of the day flirting and taking pictures and watching one heckuve football game.

There was one rather catastrophic downside though.  As I was at a bar, using my laptop, there was a chance things could go badly.  This happened right after halftime, when a half-full cup of water was poured on my laptop by a group of drunk Mexican nationals (the rich Mexicans).

Quick note on the glass half-full versus the glass half-empty riddle.  Trust me on this one, it is the half-full side of the glass that causes problems.  The empty part does nothing.  The glass is/was half-full.

The half-full glass ultimately fried my laptop and leaves me in a rather precarious place, as I am now an artist without  a brush.  I’ll figure something out, but it was a big loss.  Here’s how the liveblogging of the first half went.  By the second half I was deep into flirting territory and had to stop blogging.  It happens…

Continue reading

I’m Still Trying to Come Up With a Title for My Book

I just thought of another good one, “Philosophy is an Action.”

If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.  I’ve already written down some predictions of what people will think of it, and I want to check my work.

Joel, you first.  🙂

The Dark Bailout (and Joker vs. Joker)

Here’s a couple quick mash-ups made from “The Dark Knight” and Heath Ledger’s soon to be legendary performance.  When I rent a movie, I might watch it once before returning.  This one I’ve watched at least 3 times, and will probably *gasp* by a $.015 piece of plastic for $20 just to have a copy laying around.

Anyway, here’s the goods…

And the Joker v Joker one, “Whens Clowns Collide”.  This took some serious editing, but did a great job making something new out of something old.

The Greatest Movie Speech EVAR!!!

This is some good editing.

If you need to get fired up, this is two-minutes and fifteen seconds of hella awesome.

found over yonder.

Regarding the tags… there were three I didn’t know, two right after Sean Connery does his thing, and the one right after Hoosiers…I think I got the rest (with slight googling on a couple titles).

UPDATE: Finally got the St. Cripin’s day speech movie.  I can’t believe I missed frickin’ Shakespeare’s version of the pep-talk.

Still not sure about the woman hitler(!?) one and the one right after that.

I did love seeing “The Dark Knight” as a “Newsie” though.  Good stuff, great flick.

Throwing Shoes at Bush: The Video Game (Updated: Play as Bush and Read the News)

Right over here. {Official Game Title: That Time That Guy Threw A Shoe at President Bush: The Video Game}

Be warned however, Bush can dodge like an Agent….

Bush Can Dodge

I talked about this event, and some other stuff surrounding it, here.

[not my photoshop, thanks to the folks at Fark for teh funny]

UPDATE: Here’s one where you to play as Bush.

bOIng BoinG also has a collection of some good animated .gifs.  Gotta love the Monty Python one…

This guy has quickly become a cult hero in the Middle East, and I’m not talking about Bush.

BAGHDAD — Calling someone the “son of a shoe” is one of the worst insults in Iraq. But the lowly shoe and the Iraqi who threw both of his at President Bush, with widely admired aim, were embraced around the Arab world on Monday as symbols of rage at a still unpopular war.

In Saudi Arabia, a newspaper reported that a man had offered $10 million to buy just one of what has almost certainly become the world’s most famous pair of black dress shoes.

A daughter of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, reportedly awarded the shoe thrower, Muntader al-Zaidi, a 29-year-old journalist, a medal of courage.

In the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, people calling for an immediate American withdrawal removed their footwear and placed the shoes and sandals at the end of long poles, waving them high in the air. And in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf, people threw their shoes at a passing American convoy.

“Although that action was not expressed in a civilized manner, it showed the Iraqi feelings, which is to object to the American occupation,” said Qutaiba Rajaa, a 58-year-old physician in Samarra, a Sunni stronghold north of Baghdad.

But many more expressed undiluted pleasure. “I swear by God that all Iraqis with their different nationalities are glad about this act,” said Yaareb Yousif Matti, a 45-year-old teacher from Mosul, in northern Iraq.

Mr. Zaidi, who remained in custody Monday, provided a rare moment of unity in a region often at odds with itself. Glee, even if thinly veiled, could be discerned in much of the reporting, especially in places where anti-American sentiment runs deepest.

Now I’m not at all for the anti-American glee thing and I know the right winger nutters are going to say that anyone who doesn’t want al-Zaidi executed is a terrorist, but this whole incident is just too damn funny….

…until you realize what led to the desperation…

As Mr. Bush was speaking, Mr. Zaidi rose abruptly from about 12 feet away, reared his right arm and fired a shoe at the president’s head while shouting in Arabic: “This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!”

Mr. Bush deftly ducked and the shoe narrowly missed him. A few seconds later, the journalist tossed his other shoe, again with great force, this time shouting, “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!” Again, the shoe sailed over the president’s head.

It should be noted that al-Zaidi had told others of his plan to make a statement.  He even made sure to be wearing Iraqi-made shoes when this went down.

Another thing to think about is what this might be able to do for the Iraqi psyche, first tortured by Saddam and then liberated through fire by Bush.

A number of Iraqis said they were dismayed by what Mr. Zaidi had done. Ahmad Abu Risha, the head of the Awakening Council in Anbar Province, a group of tribal leaders that started a wave of popular opposition to fighters linked to Al Qaeda, condemned the move.

“The American president is the guest of all Iraqis,” he said. “The Iraqi government has to choose good journalists to attend such conferences.”

Mr. Zaidi, who has not been formally charged, faces up to seven years in prison for committing an act of aggression against a visiting head of state. It was unclear whether his popularity would prompt Mr. Maliki’s government to lighten his punishment.

Mr. Zaidi’s hero status continued to grow on Monday.

In Damascus, a 34-year-old shop owner, who gave his name only as Muhammad, said he was on his way to celebrate the shoe-throwing incident with friends.

“This is like a holiday,” he said. “This is just what we needed for revenge.”

[full story]

That works for me.  Can we call it even now?  We voted him out of office (kinda, his party, and the Neocons…which were a driving force behind the reason we decided to attack a country that hadn’t attacked us), and y’all insulted him to his face, maybe we can build upon this common sense of things and create a more peaceful tomorrow.

UPDATE: The Washington Post is reporting that al-Zaidi suffered a broken arm, broken ribs, and internal bleeding after the shoe tossing.  I know I’m in a huge minority of Americans here (as I was when trying to keep this particular war from starting), but I think a little shoe tossing can be forgiven when a fool invades your country on bad intelligence.  Bush should ask for him to be pardoned.  No harm, no foul.  At least to Bush.  Iraq is another story.

UPDATE: Really, Bush is cool with it.  Let the guy go.

And I Awoke With A Single Thought… (and a Word for the Day)

“Pull the trigger.”

So that’s the plan for this week.  The weapon is loaded, the charge is primed, there is a but a single action yet required to put the whole thing in motion.  I’m a bit scared of this one, and a close reading of my work (and world history) should be explanation enough for that fear.  However, after discussing it with my mother yesterday, I can do nothing but agree with her.

Fear is not a good argument for non-action when one knows an action is pure.

And now a word for today that I came across while researching a quote for my book (that would be the aforementioned “weapon”…see tabs above), mediabatory.

MEDIABATORY
(adverb, from mediabation, root to mediabate)

Of, or relating to, the media’s tendency to report the same damn thing over and over again when a story is breaking but there is nothing truly new to report. Generally used to suggest that the situation has shifted from reporting the news to masturbation of same.

Example: “The constant barrage of non-information regarding Caylee Anthony has become mediabatory.”

via

“Newswanking” is another good one.   Profiting off the gruesome death of a child would be another apt description, although that one isn’t applicable to all cases of mediabating.