Waning Aftershock

It's always something of an adventure when I post on the more explosive topics in the domain of religion/nonreligion, but Thursday's piece seemed to generate more discussion than personal attacks, so I have to feel I am making some kind of progress! It is nice to be able to talk about Dawkins in this context without getting hopelessly enraged like I once did... talking about the distressing aspects of my childhood is helping sooth the raw nerves. I still have one story to tell in this regard, but I don't feel now is the time.

A few brief thoughts...

  • Sega Bass Fishing on the Wii... a total joy for me, although probably not of much interest to many of the people who come here! So thrilled that not only have they made another version, they have kept the best of the original and expanded upon it. Why can't all sequels get this right?
  • And the ghost of Sega also presents Nights: Journey of Dreams, which while not awful could certainly have been better. The narrative content in particular grates - I hope Naoto Oshima is not too offended by this mauling of his original piece.
  • Peter - I feel like I should offer you the role of Deputy, since when the bigger flows of comments arrive you are always there to help field some of the contention! Thank you!
  • Sirc - hope I haven't scared you off! Apologies for my paranoia if you are still here.
  • Have nearly completed the statistical analysis for the DGD2 data, but it's already feeling that we won't be able to produce a working instrument at this stage of the research. Will post a few pieces going over some of the correlations here, then work on a paper and see what happens.

Hope everyone's week goes well!

Back from Poland

...and already we've drunk half the bottle of Wyborowa I brought back - can't resist a good vodka. I'd love to let you know what this trip was about, but it will have to wait until after Leipzig at the earliest.

  • I enjoyed Vector TD but it's not a game I would have expected my wife to enjoy. So imagine my surprise to see her taking to Q-Games PixelJunk Monsters (download for the PS3) with gusto - especially since it's essentially the same game (albeit with some improvements, and a co-op mode).
  • Russell T. Davies tends to get indulgent in his season closing episodes, but this year he topped last year's gratuitous Scissor Sisters song by having a cameo from Richard Dawkins in the Doctor Who finale. The guest spot made no narrative sense (why would an evolutionary theoretician comment on an astrophysical event?) but allowed Davies to parade his support for the brilliant academic and anti-theist bigot. More on this later, I'm sure.
  • On the subject of religion in science fiction, this serial has been delayed by the move as I still have to watch Firefly before I can complete my research.
  • Another delayed serial is my précis of Charles Taylor's epic A Secular Age - I'm almost through it, but the volume of note-taking required has slowed me down considerably.
  • We should be back to full service in just two weeks - thank you for your patience in the meantime.

Spikes & Trolls

The Top 10 Videogame Emotions post seemed to be popular; I got a trackback from both Kotaku and Gaming News (thanks for the exposure, mysterious benefactors!) and the SiteMeter visits went up from the usual mean of 300 a day to a more vertiginous 1,600 a day. Meanwhile, we have a weird troll visiting... I always try and get the people who come here to engage in discussion, no matter what their perspective, so I'm really not sure what to do in the cases of people who aren't willing to have an informed debate, but don't leave either. Is ignoring trolls the only option?

A few thoughts about games I'm playing.

  • My friend and co-worker Neil gave me a link to David Scott's latest tower defence game, Vector TD. It's a strategic-efficiency game, with a logistical structure - and thus like gaming crack to an game player such as myself. Fortunately, now I've completed the easier maps, the game has become too repetitive to continue - at least, I hope this is the case!
  • Vector TD is actually not a million miles from my old Art of War game concept (a wholly strategic game about military defence) - wish I had a means to put that into production. How much does a flash programmer cost for a small game project, I wonder...
  • My wife and I have nearly completed Super Mario Galaxy. In fact, we could go and fight the final battle whenever we like now, but we're going through and pulling in a few more stars. I always felt the game was riding close to the edge of frustration, but it hasn't tipped over into it much so far, thankfully.
  • Is there a reason to get a PS3 yet? I feel the need to get a power console at some point, but the 360 turns me off for a number of reasons (Ring of Death, Achievements...) I could still go either way on this decision.
  • I have exciting news about a certain RPG project that has been in pre-dev for many years now, but I can't share it just yet...

Have a great week everyone!


Having trouble sequencing my content for this week... I have an introductory piece on the DGD2 data to put up - but when? I want to get my Round Table entry up on Wednesday before the month is out, and I have a piece for Tuesday which should lead into it nicely. That leaves me uncertain what to do with the DGD2 post - hold it for Friday, or for next week? Post twice on Wednesday, maybe? None of these outcomes are particularly pleasing.

  • Thanks for all the comments about chance in games last week... Not quite ready to write about luckgames in general terms, I think, but we're getting there. A few more examples of non-gambling games clearly dominated by luck (such as Bejewelled) would really help.
  • I enjoyed the Serial format that came through for Thursdays in the Winter, but it was a bind to have to keep them going contiguously. So to give me some wiggle room, I'm going to try switching off between Serials and Card Games on Thursdays, I think.
  • Having great success digging into the neurobiology of play; the work I did linking Lazzaro to Callois is now paying off - the patterns of play link via the emotions to various biological substructures. More on this soon enough, I'm sure.
  • Not playing much at the moment except for Virus Buster (the stylus-driven version of Dr. Mario in BrainAge). Fiendishly compelling.
  • It's been so long since my wife and I had a chance to play Super Mario Galaxy, it makes me wonder if we can get back on the horse and finish the game or not. We only need a handful more Stars, and yet...

Have fun everyone!


Barring any surprises, this is the final week of "the Ethics campaign" - next week, it will finally be over. Other things that are over this week:

  • The "Pope Off" has ended with Benedictus XVI being officially ranked as Unpopular, with -6 points. It was a decidedly one-sided affair; defection of Catholics to the nay side secured the outcome.
  • And victory for the Discordians in the side contest - they win the glory in a 5-1 win against the Catholics. My thanks to everyone who took part, even if it was a trifle mean spirited in places!
  • Superbowl XLII is also over, ending in a victory for the Giants, 17-14, and defeat for the Patriots, 18-1. Patriots fans are experiencing severe disappointment, while everyone else is experiencing a heaping helping of schadenfreude.
  • I never thought I'd say this, but I miss the tacky extravaganza  half-time shows they used to mount. They were awful, but at least I could relish their kitsch. Now we just get some once-popular artist perform a mini-gig which is, frankly, kind of dull.
  • And tomorrow, another major sporting event comes to a head - the US Primaries have "Super Tuesday", featuring a possibly decisive bout of Barack vs Hillary, and probably the final round of McCain vs Romney. I'm personally on the edge of my seat!

See you in the comments!

Final Fortnight

Can it really be so? Just two weeks remain in the epic "Ethics Campaign" that began in May last year. I never intended this to last nine months, but there was so much to cover that even in this time I have only been able to explore a tiny proportion of the material.

  • Feeling  exceptionally blurry this morning, having screwed around unnecessarily with my body clock this weekend... I hope to get to the comments this afternoon if all goes well.
  • With Friday's piece on drugs, all of the issues raised by players have now been covered. Many thanks to everyone who contributed a suggestion in this regard! You set the tone for the whole of the second half of the campaign.
  • Next week, I'll be putting up the final major topic - Population - which I'm still researching, and then on Thursday that week I'll put up the bookend to close the campaign, so a week on Friday we'll be back in the green room. Can't wait!
  • I finished 100% of the Sudoku puzzles in Brain Age 2. Still can't quite believe that the digital version held my attention so better more than the paper puzzles ever could.
  • Acquired a copy of Link's Crossbow Training since a friend bought two Wii zappers and had a spare. It's a nicely constructed shooting gallery, but I find combo multipliers (also common in rhythm action games) to be extremely stressful these days, as I expect a high degree of performance from myself. I used to love them, once upon a time (it was the reason I loved NiGHTS) - I guess I'm getting old!

Quick Question

We're rushing headlong towards ethics of war now... I wanted to ask: would people prefer to debate the invasion of Iraq separately from ethics of war in general terms? Or are the two so inextricably linked at this point in time that we would do just as well to discuss ethics of war in the context of Iraq? Let me know your preference!

In other news...

  • Just to confirm what Greg Williams noted in the comments last week, Super Mario Galaxy is structured in such a way that you don't need to suffer very much at all to unlock the final boss. I'll be putting together a critique of this game when my wife and I finish it.
  • Just seen there's a new Mario Kart on its way for the Wii... it's a shame people knock Double Dash so much; I had more fun with that than any Mario Kart except the DS version.
  • Can anyone tell me if Metroid Prime 3 avoids painfully difficult bosses at the end? I enjoyed the first game, but the last two bosses poisoned it for me and made me extremely reluctant to go back to another. Anyone got an opinion on the difficulty of finishing the third one?
  • I still haven't booked my ticket to San Francisco... I don't know why, but this year GDC feels like a chore and not a pleasure.
  • Incidentally, I have some more substantial game material on its way, I just haven't had time to draft it - we've been very busy lately.

Now Where Was I...

Hoping to return to the final part of "the Ethics campaign" tomorrow - but it does depend on how my Monday goes, as I haven't had time to draft any material yet. We have three major issues to cover before we finally reach the end: moral rights, war and population. It could take a while to cover this ground, but I'm optimistic we could be finished by the spring equinox.

A few random thoughts...

  • Playing Super Mario Galaxy with my wife at the moment. We had such tremendous fun to begin with, it's a shame that the vector of the game is such that it will eventually eliminate all players who aren't willing to suffer. More on this game in future weeks...
  • I was extremely surprised to discover the Sudoku mode in BrainAge 2 producing the same obsessive-compulsive tendency in me as a computer RPG would... The simple addition of a performance metric (in this case, a speed rating) and a percentage completion score was enough to push my structural buttons. Yet paper Sudoku puzzles barely interest me! Curious.
  • Has anyone played the new NiGHTS game yet? I don't trust the ruins of Sega to get this right, so I'll probably wait for it to turn up pre-owned before giving it a go.
  • Only 33 votes in the current poll - we usually get about 100. Does this reflect the proportion of people who play multiplayer FPS games, I wonder? I guess I'll leave it another week.
  • The Civil Disobedience serial resumes on Thursday, assuming I find the time this week. We'll be looking at John Rawl's theoretical perspective on the subject.

May you survive your Monday intact!

Do Metroids Dream...

...of electrocuting me? A few quick thoughts on a busy Monday...

  • Having discovered that Super Metroid is available on the Wii Virtual Console, I have eagerly downloaded it and have already been sucked into it. I love old 2D games, and this is a real classic I've been looking forward to playing since completing the NES Metroid the other year.
  • As mentioned before, this is my last week before taking a short sabbatical (we'll be back after Thanksgiving, with the "Ethics Campaign" beginning again in December).
  • Tomorrow I'm going to put up a philosophy piece I have had rolling around for a while but never quite finished. It's still not finished, but neither (I suspect) will it ever be so, so I might as well take the plunge.
  • Wednesday I have something for the new Round Table... It's supposed to be about Age and Games, but I seem to have gone off on a tangent instead!
  • Thursday - I'm not sure what to put here at all. Something short, I suppose...

Have a great week everyone!

Boundary Layer

Having covered one of the biggest issues in contemporary Ethics, I think we have covered all we are going to look at in Future Ethics for now. The final part of the "Ethics Campaign", Justice, will begin in earnest in December, but we'll have a brief preview tomorrow.

  • Many thanks for everyone who commented on The Rights of the Unborn. The politeness of the commentors in the face of such a sensitive issue spoke very highly of everyone's character.
  • Still no comments on last week's Serial piece on Arendt's view of Action - it's not too late, if you have something to say! The Serial concludes this Thursday.
  • My wife and I desperately need a new game, either a puzzle game (or something with co-op) on the DS, or something on the Wii. There's a chance I may splurge on Mario Galaxy when it launches; it's been too long since there was a good platform game around.
  • The leaves are changing here in Knoxville, bringing a splash of colour to the world. More than ever, it feels like I live in a forest... Sadly, I have not been able to get any good squirrel photos since moving, though.
  • As I have mentioned in the comments, we lost four players over the last month or so - mostly over the Nietzsche piece, I think. But I think all the important players are still in the game, so I'll try not to feel disappointed.

Good luck in the new week everyone!