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july 2010 microblog digest
minutiae Posted 2010-08-02 23:56:22 by Jim Crawford
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July 01

  • The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that the shmups I love are the ones I'd arguably classify as platformers.
  • I've written about this before, but for reference, I consider platformers to be about spatial navigation. "Platforms" are ancillary.
  • E.g.: Mario, Mirror's Edge, Portal, Thrust. Why disqualify a game because it has no gravity or inertia? So yeah, Ikaruga totally counts.
  • (I should probably come up with a new name for this classification rather than trying to turn the tide on the widely-accepted definition.)
  • One of my flatmates just scooted a chair, and it sounded *just* like Strong Bad's "chairscoot." (

July 02

  • Functional rat lungs grown in vats:
  • -- "Conspiracy Theorist Claims Competitive Eater Did Not Swallow Hot Dogs Properly And Should Be Banned"
  • Interview with Vernor Vinge, with bonus screenshot of notes on his Zones of Thought sequel open in an Emacs buffer:
  • I'm looking forward to Vinge's Children of the Sky more than I ever have anything except Super Mario Sunshine.
  • For all your chiptune-on-youtube illustration needs:
  • Oh, even better, an arcade font web app: -- The fonts are in image files, though, so no TTF for you.
  • Have you ever noticed how dogs invariably make sharp, irritating throat-noises when they first notice someone's presence, regardless of who?
  • Loving "Nightfall" and "The King of Shreds and Patches." New favorite kind of IF: open-world investigation with no/minimal overt "puzzles."

July 03

  • In 1998 I played the Monkey Island 2 theme on an ocarina, recorded it, then reversed the recording. I have the result stuck in my head now.
  • Just picked up Deathsmiles. They're only selling limited edition; have sold out several times. Probably people hoping to flip it in a year.
  • Jesus, Deathsmiles comes with a 360 faceplate. Um, free to a good home? Even just playing the game is almost too moe-body-pillow for me.

July 04

  • Family in Florida always buys the pro-grade fireworks. It's legal if you sign the paperwork saying it's to scare birds away from your crops.

July 05

  • It occurs to me: the investigative structure I'm enjoying in The King of Shreds and Patches was also used in Star Control 2. Where else?
  • Worst part about the unskippable, embarrassing, juvenile cutscenes in Deathsmiles: you can jam on A to make them go by *slightly* faster.
  • A stray sequence of keystrokes just prematurely sent the email I'd been composing in Gmail. That's reassuring.
  • Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands sold fewer than 100k across 5 platforms. Yeah, the one *attached to the Disney movie*.
  • (Bad news for Remedy fans while we're at it: Alan Wake sold just 145k in May -- after five years in development.)

July 06

  • Lizard-sitting for Shelly. Do lizards breathe? He's supposed to just lie there perfectly still while the crickets crawl all over him, right?
  • -- Power Laces: because it's about goddamn time.
  • In infant scrawl: "looking for bassists, guitarists, drummers, vocalists to join newly disbanded band." Must be a really killer band name.
  • Okay, Thrall is lying in a slightly different utterly motionless positon from before. Good enough for me.
  • Crackdown 2's health meter starts beeping when you drop below 75% health but stops when you drop below 50%. Innovation!
  • So many appalling design choices in Crackdown 2, so few characters left in this twit.
  • Yes, it's still "fun." Yes, I'm still playing it. As long as that's our continuing standard of quality, we deserve what we get.

July 07

  • Still trying to suss out what's special about node.js. It's a fast event-driven I/O library for Javascript, right? Not trying to snark here.
  • @polpo I'm all for stripping concurrency out of everywhere it isn't absolutely crucial, but it doesn't support concurrency at all?
  • On further analysis, what bugs me most about Crackdown 2 is that Crackdown was a textbook case of a game that needed a sequel to perfect it.
  • What Ruffian gave us was a sequel with none of the original's problems fixed and with a bunch of what was awesome about the original broken.
  • It's still good in many of the ways that the original was, but if the best you can do is not break *everything*, you get the hook.
  • (7:54:39 PM) Danny: gmail protip: enable 'undo send' in settings->labs
  • I'm guessing Blizzard has no females on their community team? I guarantee this was every female player's first thought:
  • On the other hand, at least we'll get to find out what characters the Blizzard employees play in the game, right?

July 09

  • -- The Earth's rotation stopping "would eventually result in a huge equatorial megacontinent and two large polar oceans."
  • GodBlock: helping protect your kids from the "violent, sexual, and psychologically harmful material in many holy texts."
  • -- "Gorgonocephalus. A specialised starfish that captures plankton (krill) on its intricate arms."
  • All this time, when you asked if I named myself after the band Mogwai, I thought they played prog metal. This is more like prog smooth jazz.
  • (The actual thought process was closer to: "Hey, here's a neat sequence of syllables. Hah, imagine this guy in a beret!")
  • -- "Offering people small cash incentives vastly improves [patients'] adherence to life-saving medical regimens."
  • "Love Machine," photos of RealDolls in various stages of manufacture: -- Probably NSFW.
  • -- "Tired Gay succumbs to Dix in 200 meters" (No homophone.)
  • @Johnicholas Not sure how much the ellipsoid shape is just centrifugal distortion of oceans, but I think that's all they're talking about.
  • Faultline, the puzzle platformer in which you fold and unfold the world:
  • Marc LeBlanc: "Baseball is our predominant metaphor for sexual conquest. In baseball, you cannot go backwards from second base to first."

July 10

  • Found the mystery Virt song from that Blockparty video! Plasmatextor, from the Child's Play Charity 2008 CD:
  • Actually, "Plasmatextor" is the album closer -- perfect choice. My favorite part is the fakeout on IV at the end of the penultimate chorus.
  • -- "I had become Angry Internet Man. People, you never want to become Angry Internet Man."

July 11

  • Monkey Island 2 Special Edition has the only version of the MI2 soundtrack I've heard that's as good on its own terms as the OPL2 rendition.
  • @chrisremo I feel the same way about games that don't let you skip boring levels.
  • Am I crazy? Maybe. Compare, Yamaha OPL2: vs. Roland MT-32, probably the previous best alternative:
  • The Special Edition version: Note: the audio production quality does not forgive the removal of iMuse song transitions.
  • Unintuitive: you're actually at your least stable when both feet are on the slackline.
  • -- "Dear, I'm gonna take the raptor out for a walk."
  • Ron Gilbert to Tim Schafer: "You had that spritzer on your desk, when we'd come and talk to you too long you'd squirt us like we were cats."
  • Errol Morris: "Have I mentioned my Whac-A-Mole theory of the mind/body problem? Upcoming in my next NYT essay." -- You've got my attention.

July 12

  • Can someone with experience thinking about crypto tell me whether this makes sense:
  • -- Look just like this guy for only $1100!
  • As far as I can tell, the Deathsmiles scoring system only gets interesting once you're able to one-credit-clear it. I call that bad design.
  • Only about 1 in 10 posts to is actually about poor quality taxidermy. The rest I'd call freaky sculptures.

July 13

  • It was fine when a for loop sang "508 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" in Monkey Island 2, but some voice actor had to record it for the remake.
  • Convergent evolution:
  • The California Extreme classic arcade game expo in Santa Clara is coming up: -- Who's going?
  • -- This owl freaks me out no matter what posture it's in. ... wait, there are 75cm owls?
  • Sleeping tips: if you put a lamp right next to your bed, you won't have to grope blindly from the switch to bed after turning off the light.

July 14

  • Ron Gilbert still knows what to do with a dialog tree: give you six punchlines to the same setup.

July 15

  • Facebook is pushing features on me by listing friends who use them. Who here loves being used as a corporate peer-pressure puppet?
  • -- "Enough fat to fill nine double-decker buses is being removed from sewers under London's Leicester Square."
  • Ron Gilbert's DeathSpank: imagine if someone made a slot machine that satirized how stupid and mindless slot machines are. Hilarious!
  • Now you can enjoy the thrill of the rare drop and the faux accomplishment of the fetch quest, *and* laugh at yourself for doing so.
  • DeathSpank is "it" for both the square-jawed hero archetype and the fetch quest. Anybody creating either seriously automatically fails.
  • (And anybody creating them jokingly has to stand up to the existing satire.)
  • My childhood artifacts are mostly software: NES games, S3Ms, Qbasic code I wrote in 1992. My nostalgia operates in an information economy.
  • Physical objects don't persist any more, but the chat logs with your first love do. Is that worse than your grandma's chest of letters?

July 16

  • "In Sonic XL, the rings that Sonic collects are fried, and collecting them causes the hedgehog to get fatter and slower."
  • "Thematically, Sonic XL is interesting because it points out how institutionalized consumption is in digital game design."
  • Animated cross-section MRIs of fruit:

July 17

  • You know what they say: never argue with an ibex.
  • So can someone clue me in to the social news aggregator that stayed awesome by not telling anybody it exists?

July 18

  • On the way to California Extreme -- with note-taking materials this time.
  • Serious demand for Major Havoc. Have yet to see it unoccupied.
  • V3 has a VR helmet, plus a screen so you don't look like a complete tool to onlookers.
  • Tabletop Mechanical Pong: exactly what it sounds like.
  • Sprint 8, 8-player racer. Great kinetic feel on the steering wheels; is awesome to take turns by applying force then letting it spin freely.
  • Marksman: fully mechanical "light gun" game in which the gun actually emits light at sensors in the playfield.
  • Actually, I think it's the same dude who's been on Major Havoc all day.
  • Magical Truck Adventure needs a Wii port badly. Maybe Kinect.
  • V3 actually isn't embarrassing at all until you look up from the helmet and make eye contact with your audience.
  • When people refer to vector monitors being crisper than raster, they must not mean color vector.
  • I'm pretty sure most of these vector display games don't use real 3D projection. I suppose all those divides by Z add up.
  • Oh hey, there's whatsisface, the guy who retired from pro basketball to play pinball full time.
  • Yeah, California Extreme 2010 is basically the same exact thing as in 2009. Which is to say: awesome.
  • They've already started packing stuff up. Doors close at 9. I missed out on "The Act" again this year.

July 19

  • Had thoughts; wrote essay. Spent considerable effort dividing the thoughts into 140 character chunks. It's 9 twits long. What have I done?
  • -- If South Africa wants to fix this, they should really do something about the 40% unemployment levels.
  • Ethical considerations are a luxury, way up on the hierarchy of needs. How do you convince those scrabbling for subsistence to give a fuck?
  • My health insurance went up ~10% again this year. I wonder if this is like the subscription renewal scam that every magazine pulls.
  • Actually, looking back at it, it was 15%-17% increases the past two years. So by my calculations *they'll* be paying *me* by 2025.
  • I put about an hour into Lego Harry Potter before remembering that the Traveller's Tales Lego games are pretty much the worst games ever.
  • Take a brand that embodies invention and expression; turn it into mindless, grinding make-work that ends when your bank account hits INT_MAX
  • -- "Humans get a bum rap. To me, the human is what overcomes instinct, not what falls to it."
  • "We might possess the only eloquent eyes that will ever exist. We might be the universe's poetry: its only chance to know itself, ever."
  • Can't trust pain any more when climbing. As soon as my feet leave the floor, the pain is gone. Cool, sorta? Except for the stress injuries.
  • Are there consumer-grade Sprint-style driving controllers? Neither a realistic wheel nor a pong paddle would provide the free-spinning heft.

July 20

  • -- The Super Mario World music engine is about to have a coronary.
  • The other side of the console war coin:
  • More of me on value systems and the nature of being human. I'm still trying to figure this shit out, alright?
  • (That was the multi-twit essay I decided not to twit yesterday.)

July 21

  • Memo to comic book industry: when Andr? Gide said "art is born of constraint," he didn't mean everybody should use the *same* constraint.
  • -- Lorelei Lee on the poltical merit of "Milk Nymphos." Seriously, I'm convinced. (Still not going to watch it.)

July 22

  • Ian Bogost's new Facebook Game, Cow Clicker: "You get a cow. You can click on it. In six hours, you can click it again."
  • Good discussion of arachnophobia on Giant Bomb. Protip on how to deal with a spider who won't leave your ear: fill your ear with water.
  • -- Who needs authors any more? It's a totally new model for writing books!
  • -- "Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory gets funding to test thought-controlled prosthetic limb"
  • -- They should make a blogging plugin. I want to be able to sort my posts by anger level.
  • X-Ray Pin-Up Calendar: -- "Just when you thought models could not possibly get any skinnier."
  • Limbo: I don't think I've ever seen such a lackadaisical house-sized spider.

July 23

July 25

  • I enjoyed Inception well enough, but I couldn't tell you whether it made any sense.
  • Wore a hole in my Vibram Fivefingers, on the outside of the ball. Do I just buy new ones? It's not like I can get them re-soled.

July 26

  • I'm clickin' cows. I'm doin' it.
  • Okay, I'm done clickin' cows. No regrets.

July 27

  • Suicide bomb deterrent patent: -- Basically just a big packet of pork and a sign saying "but you'll be covered in pork!"

July 29

  • -- "Wikileaks To Leak 5000 Open Source Java Projects With All That Private/Final Bullshit Removed"
  • Simon Parkinson on the JRPG as an approximation of Heaven: -- If you're not feeling it, skip to June 2001 then May 2009.
  • For whatever reason, that vignette-from-life style of essay really hits home for me. "Life, Non-Warp" used it too:
  • -- "DeathSpank And The Evolving Role Of Comedy In Games"
  • @halsted Hm, yeah, both excellent examples.

July 30

  • Sometimes writers use "would of" in dialog to tag an uneducated speaker. What's weird: the reader knows, but the listening characters don't.
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