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27Mar2013 1845: Diving, Kicking, and Dice

It's all about games games games this week at the Monthenorium. Bioshock Infinite came out yesterday and I need to carve out some time to play it, between other games and making our own game. I managed to miss the entire Bioshock phenomenon, sneering down my nose at what I perceived as a weak successor to System Shock 2. But this newest one has a female AI companion that follows you around and helps out, which I am all about. It's not just about game mechanics. It's about banter. Games need more bantering, less macho posturing.

DiveKick is the best kind of joke: a parody of a genre that also appears to be a solid entry in that genre. A Cabin in the Woods, if you will. 31:30 in this podcast goes into depth about what exactly is so crazy, good, and crazy good about the idea and the game. Over ten minutes of discussion! That's five times as many minutes as there are buttons in the game!

I was trying to convince my Kickstarter-averse friends that there is good to be done in the world with little bits of their money, and that culminated in this image:

As I told them: that right there is the Kickstarter history of a winner. Fully half of those are complete and in my greedy hands right now; Huck Finn is hilarious, the Cthulhu mug is beautiful to behold, and I have a pair of amazing brass precision dice. I'm in for four of the gaming dice, brushed aluminum this time, and I'm sure they're going to be just as lovely. For my purposes, where dice are mainly used as counters on top of Magic cards, it's actually a benefit that the precision dice won't accidentally roll. But with a monthly board game night firmly established -- and Wil Wheaton decreeing a board game day this Saturday -- I'm in for more rolly kinds of pretty dice.

[Memory Tapes - Sheila] misses Sheila something fierce. Won't you please listen to them articulate a dream they had last night about Sheila? The dream looked like Blade Runner recorded on Betamax and a bank teller that resembled the opposite of Ronald Reagan handed him half of his broken heart. They intend to recount this dream at length. Eight-point-five minutes of length. You should probably bring a beverage.

[Toro Y Moi - Say That] would like everybody to know that he's all right, and they're all right. Then he will play you a mellow dancy synth tune that maybe you can sway to, and he will make sure you understand that he's all right.

Didn't I just talk about these guys? Ra Ra Riot is hitting the Promotional Free Song circuit pretty hard, with [Ra Ra Riot - Dance With Me] now available. Somebody talked him down from his vocoder, but all the lyrics about robots are gone as well. Now he's just generically looking for love with a flighty pop-rock teenage love song.

20Mar2013 1945: Patches Welcome

Last night, our erstwhile Guild Wars 2 playing finally hit a wall. The most scheduled and casual guildmate was already punching ten levels above his weight class and wisely refuses to play any game that becomes a grind. I think it's Post-Traumatic Guild Wars Vanquishing Syndrome. I ain't even mad, as I did about half the vanquishing and I never want to think about it again.

Anyway, we cast our nets wide to find another game to finish out the night. Unfortunately our nets caught a Vassal. It's been a while since I've been open sourced quite as hard as Vassal, but goddamn that's an open-sourcey program. The basic idea is a cross-platform board-game emulator with Internet play, an infinitely modular framework for every game in existence. What it actually is is the rawest Java GUI you will ever see wrapped around synchronization issues. This is Java as I haven't seen it in years, Java window widgets from a decade ago thrown up on the screen in no reasonable order. It doesn't seem to enforce any actual rules of the games, it's just a grid/tile simulator with 90% successful network code. We tried the very simplest game I could think of, Tsuro. This game is literally all tiles, with player movement completely deterministic based on the tiles, and even this was not handled automatically. We ended up with two players unable to see the tiles played by a third, fifteen player markers on the board, and tiles placed wildly skewed across gridlines. Each "game" that is "emulated" seems to be a collection of pictures from the real game, all of the copyright infringement with none of the utility.

Because it is open source I have no doubt that we would be expected to make it a usable product. Screw that noise. Instead it galvanized us into making our own networked board game emulator. Our resolve has not faltered in twenty hours. Prognosis is good.

[San Cisco - Awkward] is here to rock you funky with a guy-girl feelgood. I'm totally on board with a dude and a lady swapping lines; An Horse and Mates of State are always welcome here.

[Shugo Tokumaru - Katachi] arrives years too late. There's already an experimental Japanese noisicist in my playlist, and her name is Takako Minekawa. This is a song from a Wes Anderson montage stretched to three minutes.

[Strfkr - While I'm Alive] goes out of its way to make a terrible first impression. It wraps the most annoying sound in the world around the main melodic line and never varies from that melody. It reminds me quite a bit of Of Montreal. And I hate Of Montreal.

Typing out a lot of rage today. Ergh.

14Mar2013 1850: Shove It In Your Face

Happy Pi Day, everybody! Did you eat pie at 1:59 PM? Or possibly at 1:59 AM? You should have! Now you'll have to wait. For the most part, Internet holidays are frivolous nonsense that I don't see anybody celebrating in real life. So it warmed my heart to get in line in the grocery store with two pies immediately behind some other guy with two pies.

The news about Google Reader shutting down is as heartbreaking as news about the discontinuation of a free product that didn't exist even ten years ago can be. How will I be endlessly distracted and entertained now? Will I be forced to manually check my own bookmarks, like some savage from 2003? Despite this, I know that trying to bring back Reader with a petition is the dumbest thing we can do. If there is one thing Google can say with certainty, it is the exact number of people that used Google Reader. Google's thought process here -- because corporations can have inner monologues just like any other person -- is along the lines of "100,000 signatures? That's cute. 47,549,137 people used Google Reader and we axed it anyway. deal_with_it.gif"

The news looks quite a bit different if we flip the idea from "petitioning" to "patronage". On one side, Internet mobs coming together to ask a corporation to pretty please do something looks like a last desperate act. On the other, Internet mobs coming together to ask a corporation to pretty please do something yields a kind of beauty that can't be described in words. I never got through Veronica Mars, but I know what it's like to miss a show so terribly and then have all your dreams come true with a major motion picture. Godspeed, Veronica Mars backers.

07Mar2013 1900: Duos

Guys YOU GUYS Daft Punk's new album is coming! As a general rule I despise electronica and instrumentals and clubbing and dancing, but Daft Punk cuts through all of that. I am almost certain that I don't completely enjoy their music, but I respect the dedication to always dressing up like robots. I am vibrating with anticipation so hard that I might fall through the floor.

In other news, Morgion is in my guest bedroom for a limited engagement. There are no plans for more comics, but in this week I have already failed at one food experiment. Morgion may have been the secret Food Satan all along.

Google keeps going with its Antenna up-and-comers list, but this month also provided a "Filter PSSST" list of free indies. Since my sensibilities trend more indie these days I figured I'd have a better hit percentage -- or at least a lower "featuring" percentage -- in that group. In typical Google Store fashion, I can no longer find said list, although the individual songs still appear to be free.

[The Milk Carton Kids - The Ash & Clay] is here to get Garfunky on yo' ass. These two aren't even pretending to have their own sound; it is straight-up Simon plus Garfunkel, from guitar to harmonies to the "ooo"s of the bridge.

Oh no, this isn't what I signed up for. Isn't there an indie out there with...I dunno, a tempo above 80bpm? Not [Keaton Henson - Sweetheart, What Have You Done To Us]. The one-two of Milk Carmon and Kidfunkel followed by Keaton will cure your insomnia. If you can get to sleep with a wavery quavery sad lady whispering in your ear for two minutes, followed by SUPRISE HORN SECTION.

Finally! For a song focused around picking up, the Broadheds don't quite get the blood racing with [Broadheds - Pick Me Up]. This is a mellow ska jam, the kind of song that closes out an album after eleven tracks of shit-kicking good timey saxophones.