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3:50 AM on 11.27.2008

REAALLY LATE OT WEDNESDAY: Complete Juggling Lessons by Me!

Well, parts 1-3 anyway.

Look. Geeks play video games. I suppose non-geeks do as well, but if there's one thing geeks are expected to do, it's play those video games. Also, people with too much spare time.

But what do you do while that load-screen is up? Between games? While you cool off between amazingly frustrating sessions of Game X?

I juggle. A lot. And professionally speaking, when I'm not doing other jobs, I teach juggling in the school system. I enjoy it.

What I decided to do this week (well, actually last week), was put up a nice, straightforward seires on learning to Juggle for YouTube.

Now I know, you might be thinking that there's plenty of Juggling lesson resources on YouTube, but frankly, most of them suck. The ones that don't suck don't expand the knowledge in the way I usually like to. This is therefore a unique video I've put together just for Destructoid. Hopefully, you'll be able to pick up my lesson in the next few weeks. Over the rest of December, I'm going to be running a 9 part series covering everything from the very basics to some quite advanced moves.

Now some of you are going to say "I can't Juggle." Well, that's bollocks. Bollocks and balls, of the non-juggling variety.

I was born with mild (very mild) cerebral palsy. I can't weave two bits of string together properly. I know jugglers with no depth perception, legal and total blindness, only one arm and those who juggle from a wheelchair. Furthermore, klutzy people make the best learners. They enter without preconceptions or attitude.

You can learn. Anybody with any working limbs or a mouth can learn juggling. You may take longer than others, or you may shock and amaze yourself. But you won't learn on your own without a lot of good advice. If you can do two and not three, trust me when I say, you're doing it wrong. Seriously. Abandon the way your cousin who can't juggle either's way and do it the way I tell you. It's the way that will work.

Trust me.

I'm putting all three first videos in the space below. Feel free to add your comments after that, either going, "Wow, thanks," or "I'm stuck." I will try to offer advice over the next week, and maybe add another tutorial with my next 3 parts.

Anyway, enjoy. My apologies in part because YouTube cuts off the top of the frame, which might make things a bit trickier, but I think if you can listen, you'll get ample help.

Learn, and report, and don't give up, even if you want to punch yourself in the eye after your first 15 minutes.

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12:08 PM on 11.25.2008

Gears of War II as Written by Terry Pratchett

The universe, conventionally speaking, does not have corners. It has curves. Curves that spin and drop and coil into an infinite patchwork of blackness. And in the upper left-hand corner of this blackness there is a world. The one world. The final world of human habitation.

Sera.

Sera is fat, poised on the cusp of realities like an especially large cake. A cake with brown and grey icing. It looms, burning bright with drifting sparkles of flame, and sinks eternally through fields of stars. Scientists are unsure what will happen if the light of Sera ever burns out, but the general consensus has been described as "not good."

This is the world on which grow the hopes of humanity, like bright blooms, or possibly marzipan roses. And there are always marzipan roses.



* * *

Dominic Santiago liked to see himself as chizzled. It was an apt adjective. In fact, if a survey had been done of the denizens of Jacinto who had ever laid eyes on him, chizzled would have come up right behind mustachioed. Chizzled, suave, grizzled and brawny were the kind of adjectives that clung to Space Marines like magnets, that stuck to them like mustache hairs stick to a suit.

It was, in fact, the heavy suits like steel ponchos that people probably noticed first, that, Dominic considered, or the enormous pointy gunsą. Everything they wore was a network of panels, a cavalcade of black buckles on black armour plates, with black designs at the centre of black pads. He had a blue light on his shoulder to draw attention to the black. His beard was black. His hair was black. Even the gloves that covered up the scar over his left knuckle were black.

The design on Dominic's chest was more or less identical to that on the others in his squad, and to all of COG, really. It consisted of a skull, locked inside a black gear. Dominic had never been sure who the skull was meant to intimidate, since the Locust hordes didn't seem to mind human skulls very much, but then, it was best not to think of such things. Maybe it was meant to remind Locusts of how bony humans could be, as a deterrent to eating them.

It didn't seem completely effective.

"Yo," Dominic heard. He made an effort to crease his muscled head toward the sound. Unit Commander Fenix (as in to rise from the ashes) had laid his enormous cerated saw-gun beside a vaguely intimidating spiral of rock and held up something speckled and rotund. "I think it's an egg," Fenix announced.



"Do they have eggs?" Dominic asked.

"Don't ask me." Fenix answered.

"Because I'm pretty sure they're not supposed to have eggs."

"I'm pretty sure they're not supposed to have that many teeth either," Fenix said, "That doesn't help matter too much, now does it?"

"No," Dominic answered. He scowled at his own reflection in a tall length of panelling. It was that kind of thinking that kept him from moving up. His mother was always saying that. "Still, it could be something else, er, Unit Commander."

"Well--"

"Gentlemen," interrupted a third voice. Both men turned. It was Cole. Cole was broader than Dominic and in his opinion had drifted too far from chisled toward "ripped" potentially even beefy. This made him nervous. Cole never had anything pleasant to say. "Might we cut back the argument for a moment?"



"Whyzzat?" Fenix answered.

"Well," Cole said, drawing a deep breath. He pointed with one muscled arm. Veins generally throbbed and otherwise made themselves known. "We might want to shoot the Locust standing directly behind you."

Now Dominic and Fenix turned, Dominic grimacing at the universe in general. And so far it had been such a nice birthday too.

---------
ąThis is of course based on a study carried out by Grismal Bokeray, High Investigative Unit Manager and Professor of Sociological Studies at West Sera University in a study entitled "Shiny First Impressions: The Look and Logistics of the Space Marine" which among other things, posited that the entire concept of the Space Marine may be flawed, considering the relative lack of marine or sea-based uses for the COG suit. Unit Commander Fenix's official response to this report is said to be: "What?"   read


1:32 PM on 11.24.2008

Back in the Day Once More: THIS is Why I Brought A Wii



Hmm? Oh, I try to avoid the expression "back in the day," yeah.

Being all "back in the day" automatically ages me, which would be fine if I were made of cheese. As I'm not, it suggests that I'm no longer in the day. Many of us are really just entering our particular day. But then, games are like that. They operate on another sense of time. Between the 50's and the 90's, few things actually gained a dimension. Except games.



Back in the day is also a bit disingenuous. There wasn't really a "day" for anything. Things sucked just as much back then (whenever then was) as they do now, just in different ways. But looking back, we almost always iron over the proverbial wrinkles and fill in the blanks with delicious chocolate. Back in the day is a myth, a mirage, all maya, yeah yeah yeah, and my memories are as chocolatey as anybody's.

Back in "the day," then, there was a grey box called a Nintendo. The joy of playing Nintendo, the joy we started to lose in the late 90's was the joy of simplicity. Of variety. Games could be about nearly anything, and in almost any style. Graphics may have been more uneven than today, glitches more prevalent without patches (even flagship Nintendo products like Metroid were overrun with glitchy blocks).

All the great Nintendo franchises started in this era, and haven't changed a lot since. Other franchises on the PC, Sega and the Arcade came out at the same time, and many are still spitting out sequels. In the last 10 to 15 years though, all these titles have gone 3D.



Now, I've already done a post about the 3D action title, shooters, etc, but that's not what I'm on about here. I like a lot of great, innovative 3D titles, even a few unoriginal ones that are short and fun. But I think we can all agree that things were getting a little "samey." In some ways they still are. 3D action titles should have meant more diversity, more options, not less. But the expense of these giant flagship titles make risky idea-based games less desirable. You could Bizarroman's Quest for Ankle Warmers online, but not in any wide forum for the average gamer.

This has begun to change.

Over the last 5 years, I would argue that we've seen an explosion of new genre-bending games, new ideas, and new venues for creative concepts. We've seen the transition from blocky or grainy 3D to 3D as an expressive medium, with cartoony and hyper-realistic styles side-by-side with more innovative art direction. And we've seen each major console pick up an Online network for new, creatively risky content. From Katamari to Braid, Guitar Hero to Space Giraffe, alternate forms of gameplay are getting more and more attention.

Steam and other services have opened up the old Adventure genre, while download networks on each console have really provided a testing-ground for retro titles.

This is what still excites me about the Wii.



When the Revolution was announced, I was only mildly interested in the fiddly floaty mouse thing. I could have cared less about more Mario and Metroid (though Zelda titles are pretty much the only games my wife enjoys), and I was almost hostile to the idea of better graphics and sound. Who needs that fancy pants stuff, because you know, back in the day, our graphics were made of moose pelts, and we liked it!

All three download services have a lot to get excited over, even with their ownership problems I've already examined, but the Wii is the one that I originally became attracted to.

The Wii has both "normal" controls and "waggle" controls, opening up the opportunities for new gameplay. The Wii has the cheapest Dev kit, so cheap I almost considered purchasing it myself to work on. More cheap dev kits mean more ideas, more reason to accept the risk of new ideas, more people able to splash their ideas into the mix.



Now this has, in fact, led to a lot of crappy party-games for the Wii. I could care less. I just won't buy those games. But the opportunity to create new experiences, retro, new, or otherwise and for these to actually pay off is the most exciting part of owning a Wii.

Now, all three consoles, and the PC now have these kinds of opportunities, and I think it's all good. But the cost effectiveness of the Wii and commitment to this kind of content as part of the Wii's Online strategy could open up the opportunity for the range of gaming to grow. That's what I want to see on my Wii.

I think this is a good time to be excited about where games can go. Whether most of the new ideas out there work or not, more diversity means more strength. Now, the Wii does need to break out of a few ruts. Great RPGs would be a start, more concepts like the recent range of Adventure Games, more retro titles are all positive steps in all the major gaming platforming. But games like the new Homestar Runner series, Zach and Wiki, Mad World and even Boingz are why I bought a Wii, not because I cared that much about how many hands I needed to play golf. It's time to bring back the old riskiness, even if that means more terrible games in with the interesting.



To shorten a long story, new shiny graphics and immersive controls, whether they're six-axis or more, won't push the future of gaming. An openness to risky ideas will.   read


2:54 AM on 11.21.2008

The Writers from "House MD" Solve "Sam and Max Hit the Road."



INT. HOSPITAL HALLWAY. DAY

HOUSE is walking down a hospital hallway (set #02) when he is interrupted by CAMERON

HOUSE: You're in my way.

CAMERON (Handing him clipboard): We've got a dog and a rabbit, trying to get inside a giant ball of twine, a bucket of fish, a spanner, a rasp, world of fish magnet--



HOUSE: Not interested. (Walks the other way)

CAMERON (stepping in front): They need to get into that twine!

HOUSE: Wait. Have I stepped into some alternate universe in which Not Interested means 'Please Get in My Way?'

CAMERON: We have a piece of fur and a severed hand.

HOUSE: Use the severed hand on the twine. Call me when you're done.

CAMERON: Tried that.

HOUSE: Use the rabbit. Oldest trick in the book.

CAMERON: Tried that too. Results were negative.



HOUSE (inscrutably): Why do you want into this twine so badly?

CAMERON: I don't. The Dog and the rabbit...

HOUSE: Yes?

CAMERON: Okay, you're right House, way to dig into my psyche.

HOUSE (ponders for a moment).

CUT. INT. DIAGNOSIS ROOM. DAY

HOUSE enters, pursued by CAMERON. FOREMAN, KUTNER, TAUB, and "THIRTEEN" are just sitting around with nothing better to do.



KUTNER: Got a kid with eye cancer. Four days to live.

HOUSE: Can't. Well, could, but won't. Cameron here wants us to do a case.

THIRTEEN: What?

CAMERON: Ignore him. We've got a dog and rabbit--

FOREMAN: Wait, House, you're doing what Cameron says now?

HOUSE (batting his eyes, looking heavenward): I've found my calling.

CAMERON: Dog and rabbit.

KUTNER: Bunny.

CAMERON: Rabbit. Max and... Sam I think.

HOUSE: You know their names by heart? That's just sad. (Passes out copies of the report now in a blue folder for the others to peruse).

CAMERON: Trying to get something from a ball of twine.

HOUSE: I don't even know "Thirteen's" name, and it's been a year.



THIRTEEN (Eyeing house): Maybe it's a red herring.

ALL briefly pause.

THIRTEEN: Producers put it in there, no solution, everybody wastes their time guessing while a kid dies of eye cancer.

TAUB: They wouldn't do that.

HOUSE: Wouldn't, or shouldn't because your marriage is falling apart.

TAUB: Wouldn't and no, my marriage isn't falling apart.

FOREMAN (reading the report): Doesn't say anything about this thing they want.

CAMERON: Because it doesn't matter. It's just a thing they want.

FOREMAN: Maybe it's magnetic. Attach the magnet to the hand and boom, done.



CAMERON: Tried that.

TAUB: Walking dead?

CAMERON: It's LucasArts.

THIRTEEN: Use Max on the twine? He can get in there.

CAMERON: He can't, too tight.

KUTNER: What if it's Lupus?

Everyone stares at him. He stands.

HOUSE: It's never Lupus.

THIRTEEN: Except that one time it was.

KUTNER: I don't mean actually Lupus. What if it's like Lupus. I mean... what if it's not with you, but with the twine.



FOREMAN: Release the twine, get the item.

THIRTEEN: You're reaching.

Suddenly HOUSE seems lost in thought.

TAUB: But how do we do that?

FOREMAN: Same solution as before. Use the rabbit on the twine.

CAMERON: We tried that!

FOREMAN: Well try it again! Try it again until it works!

TAUB: Maybe we need to go back over all the locations again. See if there's something we missed?

HOUSE: Wait. (Looks to Thirteen) . Say that thing again.

THIRTEEN: Except that time that it was.

HOUSE: No, no! The other thing.

THIRTEEN (Annoyed): Um, something about Kutner, trying to hard. This a game of try to remember what you said?



HOUSE: Just wanted to watch your lips move. God! Anyway, you said it so much nicer before.

KUTNER: Did I say anything nicer?

HOUSE: Reaching. Maybe Kutner's not reaching enough.

CAMERON: We've tried the hand.

HOUSE: I'm talking. Grown up time. What if we treat the problem like real doctors?

THIRTEEN: I'm pretty sure we are.

HOUSE: Not doctors. Doctors.

HOUSE leaves, abruptly.

KUTNER: Glad to see he needs us.

INT. HOSPITAL HALLWAY. DAY

WATSON--I mean, WILSON is getting into an elevator. HOLMES--I mean HOUSE blocks the door with his cane. Since he's an addict and all, he pops a few pills maybe.



WILSON: Can you never let me go down anymore.

HOUSE gives him a sideways glance.

WILSON: You're a child.

HOUSE enters the elevator, steps next to WILSON.

HOUSE: What do you know about Gator Golf?

WILSON: This never gets old.   read


4:09 AM on 11.20.2008

The Ogopogo Mystery: How A Small Canadian Town Made Waves in Final Fantasy IV

When Final Fantasy IV left the localization team as Final Fantasy II back in 1991, a few small things were changed. Like removing the Tentacle Porn sidequest and changing Gorecap Bloodbane's name to G. Rubybn. References to "Stabbing Kain in the Eye" replaced with "..." Stuff like that.

But one thing that didn't change much were the monsters. Original Japanese phonetic spelling aside, monsters tended to be shortened, but not drastically transformed from the original. To me, this makes an old mystery even more beguiling, verging ever-so-slightly towards befuddlement and possibly folderol.



This is lake Okanagan, a narrow strip of beachfront property stretching from the Cheesy town of Armstrong to the winey city of Penticton, cut through the lower portion of the Okanagan valley, in rural BC. That's British Columbia, a rather obliquely colonial name for a deeply colonized province. The Okanagan is a desert with blazing summers painted yellow by the dying reeds and languorous, snowy winters. Apparently the Governator has a house there on the lake for the Sunny bits, or the skiing, or because of free medical, something like that.

Both Vernon and Kelowna, along the edge of Lake Okanagan register in Canada's top 100 most populated cities, but that's like calling Shan Shi one of the world's best Vegetarian Stakehouses. There ain't a lot of them. We've got like Toronto, 5th largest in North America, and then it kind of goes downhill from there.

I grew up in Vernon. To give you an idea of the demographics, think Florida minus Jews. At the time I grew up there, it boasted the most churches per capita in North America and the most churches on one street. It was actually a local joke. How do you get to the church? Just take a left at the church.

All the more odd that we had our own popularized sea-monster, complete with horns and forked tongue.



In addition to being a palindrome, the Ogopogo is apparently the "most famous sea monster in Canada," which is like saying Shan Shi is the world's most famous--oh, forget it.

Ogopogo sightings, that is to say beavers and logs, are an important part of the Okanagan identity. It's like living near Nessie, or Pete Townsend. You can't come to Vernon without buying a highly flammable Ogopogo doll made in Korea.

Vernon is more or less the definition of a "sleepy" town. The octogenarian population pretty much guarantees that a drive downtown will end in hip surgery. This made it even odder when our local sea-snake became featured as the second-last boss of Final Fantasy IV.



I'll let this sink in with a dangling participle:

Playing FFIV as a kid, the Ogopogo was amazing. I still remember pausing the game to tell my mom. How the Hell did Ogopogo get into my game?

Now, it's true that the Final Fantasy series is known for drawing on myths and legends to populate its universe. Kain from Cain, as in the brother of Abel. Asura, the middle-eastern deities who seek power, Odin from the Norse pantheon, the Behemoth from the Bible. In fact, every other boss in Final Fantasy IV has roots in a well known and popular system of mythology, or just a really obvious name. The Mist Dragon and White Dragon are obviously exactly what they sound like. The four fiends are loose references out of Dante's Inferno.

Now, compare the popularity of Dante's Inferno to that of the native Okanagan myths that gave rise to the Ogopogo. We're talking a small First Nation's group, with a few water fountains and polystyrene displays in parks that the majority of Japan will never visit. Even the localization team, situated not too far from the Canadian border would have had little reason to include an obscure Canadian monster.



And yet, not only does the Ogopogo make it in as the second-last boss of the entire game (admittedly optional, but striking nonetheless), it also entitles a whole series of newsletters put out by Square in the 90's entitled the "Ogopogo Examiner."



How and why did Ogopogo end up in the international version of a Flagship RPG?

Well I have tried to find out. I researched and emailed the original director in his new studios, and I looked up every member of the translation and localization teams. I couldn't find enough contact information for many of them, but those I could, I emailed.

What did I get in answer? Nothing.

Nobody provided any information at all.

Of course, the answer is probably very simple. They were looking for another sea creature, Nessie wasn't right for the job, somebody said something about an Ogopogo, a name which fit easily on the screen, and boom, history. 4 or 5 remakes later, we're still dropping ninja magic on that Leviathan palette swap. Odin, and Zeromus, and Rubicant may hog all the glory, but killing Ogopogo, that's the stuff you don't forget.

That's the stuff that sticks.

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3:49 PM on 11.19.2008

Missed opportunities: OT Wednesday

I had a really cool project all scheduled for this Off-Topic Wednesday, but it's not finished, so it'll have to wait until next week. Until then, here's something of my own that's very much in progress and totally unrelated to next week's special development:

For now, we will call her The Overseer. The Overseer is a cluster of ideas, possibilities, an undulating mass of intersecting realities. She is watching something.

The universe is about to end.

That is to say, two uniververse.

For some reason, as the galaxies phase through one another, as the cold fingers of stars, the wisps of galaxies fold into each other and wink into nothing, she thinks of humans, one tiny race in one tiny star system in one tiny galaxy cascading through an infinity of dimensions. This is not at all unusual. After all, a being as old as herself, so perceptive, so practiced has had a lot of so-called-time to think and has thought of a lot of things. It as much raw chance as the fact of a cup of pens spilling to the floor. It as raw chance as triangles having three-sides. It, like all that she can see is a myriad of coincidences falling through their own frail order.

The being thinks of humans, then, and the vanity of the words they use. Humans have called it the dream, the world, the cosmos, the universe, the, the, uni, the. They study it, their everything, catalogue it, watch as they spin helplessly around their sun, helplessly through their star system, helplessly around the sparkling darkness, adrift in the universe that too will one day disappear. All is coincidence, all is hapinstance, and like all universes (the silly word) one day their lucky run will run out, and the multiverse will envelop them as the stars themselves dissolve together into an embrace of nothingness.

The Overseer watches intently as the stars phaze out of being. So many billions of beings, trillions of stars, frillions of worlds. It is not a slow exodus, no gentle fall, no thousand years process as some would guess, but instantaneous. In human time, maybe slightly less than the length of a moment, a second, a pause, the eyes clenched shut for the sneeze. But The Overseer sets her own hours. She watches, intent, as birds vanish into one another, as glorpeks become mountains become air become nothing, as neutrinos, shivering, bumping, dancing, crash and shatter, scatter and fall. Finally, the last iota of matter, the last speck of time, the last fluctuations of energy, movement, and mass cease and there is nothing. Less than nothing. The absence of even emptiness or space. The nadir.

Then

In a moment

she scoops her arms down

and with a single breath

there is matter, and there is time and there is a tiny, irridescent spark.

This will be one more verse, one more turn, she thinks.

Grow, universe, sparkle, explode, bloom.

She plants this tiny bauble in between folds, warming it with the undulations of dimensions. She will wait to see it blossom, maybe to see this little collapsing thing burst with new lights, itself spawn rocks, and suns and systems, maybe just to be enveloped by other realities, incorporated into a cosmos that is so big you could not breathe there.

From this point on it is all up to chance.   read


3:01 AM on 11.18.2008

My Cat is Having Trouble in Ninja Gaiden!

Okay, I'm at my wit's end here.

One of the toughest parts of the original Ninja Gaiden is memorizing the appearance of birds. Birds have this incredible ability to just kill you instantly in mid-jump. As with the original Castlevania, getting hit in mid jump is pretty much the same as getting kissed on the lips by Vinnie the Strangler, being passed the black spot or making love to Magic Johnson.

Too soon?

5-2 is probably the worst for this. There are dozens of these eagles that just dive out from the top of the screen at you, and depending on the angle of your leaps, you can easily either get pounded to death clinging to a bare rock-face, or just whipped an inch back, tumbling into the chasm below.



However, none of these are the the problem faced by my cat. The main problem my cat faces is actually in 1-1. He has no problem, given a little gentle persuasion, getting the guy to move a bit to the right. I've sometimes gotten him to even hit the sword button once or twice. But the complicated series of jumps right when you get to the first "Enjoy Coke" sign, is just too tough for his simple motor skills and tenuous understanding of how my old NES even works.



I've always found the simple, repetitive music between scenes in the original Ninja Gaiden to be eerie and haunting, despite their apparent simplicity. We need more remixes of those original tunes. The plot hops around somewhat randomly, but seemed to have a kind of genuine consistency of tone and character missing from a lot of games of that era. The level design was fiendish, and some of the bosses ridiculously hard, but mostly, it was all about memorizing patterns and exploiting them. And yet, my cat can't seem to memorize the simplest patterns in the game, even at the level of anticipating the third enemy or so. All he anticipates is my disappointment.

Now I don't know if there are strategy guides designed specifically for cats, because I've tried everything, from gentle coaching to treats, to a rolled up newspaper. I just can't get Wubby to clear stage 1-1. He's a smart cat, but apparently not motivated enough. Maybe if I rubbed catnip on the screen.

At first, I gave him a treat every time he killed one of those jaguar things or the boxers that seem to be hopping around punching thin air for no discernible reason, but honestly, I like to think we're beyond that. Now he only gets a treat if he at least manages to wall jump. I know he can do it. He's very intuitive.

Does anybody else feel that, more-so even than other games of the era, the enemies in this one are mostly just minding their own business before you slash their heads open and watch their 8-bit brains shatter on the sidewalk? I mean, yeah, they do tend to gang up on you, but who wouldn't if some ninja just cut the throat and shot a fountain of fire through your identical twin brother? Many seem as if they'd be happy throwing swords at random with or without you there. Some are just running or flying in a pre-determined arc, and you just happen to be in the way.



Sometimes I try deliberately to avoid as many enemies as I can, live and let-live I say. Those football players seem depressed enough as it is.

I really want my cat to enjoy the later levels of this game, all the stunning revelations, but nothing seems to motivate him. I've tried taping the controller to his paws, but that just seems to annoy him. I've tried cajoling him. "No wet food until you beat Bloody Malth," but I don't think it's going through.

Is there a Cat Whisperer that focusses on early NES carts? Seriously, there needs to be a Cat Whisperer that focusses on early NES carts. Maybe I should start him on something simpler like the first stages of the Adventures of Lolo or Dragon Warrior or something. Something where you don't need a lot of buttons. He seemed to do just fine at Wii Music.



I never really cared for any of the sequels all that much. I found the new angles in NGII and NGIII to be dull rehashes of the revenge-story of the first game. There's something really heartbreaking when you find out that your father is alive, only to see him under the control of the Jaquio. And what happens next is classic tragedy material. If only my cat would try just that little bit harder.

The original Ninja Gaiden is one of the most frustrating games I ever owned, but one of my favourites too. The whole game feels cinematic and fresh every time, and the difficulty builds in a way that feels organic all the way through, apart from a few really cheap deaths. Bosses start from the ground level, and work up to being a cavalcade of death and dismemberment. Without gore or boobs, the original NES version was a moody but fun piece, combining Ninja vengence with a quasi Indiana Jonesish quality of discovery and adventure. And yet, my cat can't even clear the first level.

Wubby is a clever cat. He can leap straight from the floor to the top of his favourite scratching post, at least, back when I let him use it. He could understand words like "food" and "bath" even though I can't understand a word of cat. He even knows how to use his own catbox now, something that obviously isn't a basic instinct. However, I'm not even sure he knows what's going on in the screen sometimes. He just looks up at me and mews until I remove the tape from his paws and let him have a sip of water. It's really disappointing.

If this keeps up, I might have to let my wife and son up for another try. I wonder how they're doing down there, anyway. Oh, who knows. As Wubby knows, it's all about the retro! Hurray!

  read


1:59 PM on 11.17.2008

The Hidden Cost of the Disk: An Argument FOR Digital Downloads

I wanted to look at where our games come from. Who makes them, physically, and under what conditions? How do they get to the store? How much oil is burned up getting them to the warehouse? Are disks even a sustainable format, even for the next 20-30 years?

For those of you just tuning in, yes, in this article, I will appear to reverse everything I said in my last front-page discussion of physical media. But it won't really be a reversal, more like a render at a different angle, or one of those scenes where the villain and hero appear to agree over something as fundamental as the ideal consistency of butter, just before the hero says something like "I'm NOTHING like you!" Hopefully, I will leave you confused, bewildered into soup of lightly braised uncertainty, and then I will spoon you up into a bowl with a chilled tomato puree, like some kind of deadly gaspacho of fear.



Because, you see, while I staunchly support the rights of the consumer to actually own what they purchase, and will continue to argue that the way digital downloads are currently handled by the big gaming companies, the disk is actually on the way out, and unlike many people who take consumer rights seriously, I think that's a good thing.

But how can it even be possible to be pro-ownership and anti-disk?

Disks don't come from nowhere. And no, saying "plastic" isn't enough. There is entire relationship of ships, planes, factories, refineries and mines at work here, a complex and expensive pathway that gamers like you and I rarely think about. Maybe it's time we did.

The Enviro-Social Costs of Production

DVDs and Blu-Ray discs start with a layer of 1mm thick polycarbonate, stamped with miniscule indentations which are read as data by your drive. The narrower and more numerous the indentations the more "blue" you need the laser to read it, thus HDDVD and Blu-Ray lasers are toward the blue spectrum while traditional disks (such as what plays on the Wii) use a warmer laser along the red. These plastic plates are layered with a reflective coating, usually aluminum, and then covered with a protective lacquer. Disks are then dyed, wrapped in plastic, put in a case inside a box which itself wrapped in plastic.



This process is by no means benign, since numerous toxic glues are involved and factory production itself contributes to smog and CO2 emissions, but there's a lot more to the process than this.

Components for these disks, such as the polycarbonate centre are derived from fossil fuels, oil drilled in the environmentally fragile Albertan oil sands, or in countries like Saudi Arabia or Bahrain. Oil is then shipped to refineries, and flown to processing plants. These plants are often toxic environments for the lower-class workers, and have low environmental standards, poisoning not only the global atmosphere, but local water tables and food supplies. On top of this, local water is often depleted in order to cool raw materials during the production phase.

While it isn't easy to track down the exact costs of all these carbon exchanges, I had some success using the Futurama "Bender's Big Score" release as a sample. The producers behind the new Futurama movie made a pledge to make BBS "Carbon Neutral" and in doing so, captured a lot of decent data on the amount of emissions they produced.



Now, trying to be Carbon Neutral is a good goal, but it isn't a solution. The resources are still being spent, and the waste is very real. But "Carbon Neutral" is about as good as companies get, these days and is based on countering as much of the effects of their production as possible, if only through somewhat questionable donations. It's a good first step, anyway. But I'm not interested in whether its good enough or not, only the data.

The execs at Fox used Clear Carbon Consulting and the Greenhouse Gas Protocol to estimate how much carbon dioxide they used in their production. Although Bender's Big Score is multi-disk, I think the rates would be relatively comparable between most AAA games and this major DVD release. If anything, I'd wager the BBS estimate would be a bit undershot, to help companies look a bit better. They estimate 222.9 tons of CO2 waste went into the production end of their first run. Outsourced production, transportation and material gathering they estimate at about 218 tons. The majority in third-world countries.

With today's gaming and movie market, the need for petro-chemical based polycarbonate has only grown as well. Plastics Europe estimate that the Global Market for polycarbonate grew three times between 1990 and 2000, from 600 000 to 1 8000 000 tonnes. That's more than just greenhouse gasses as a result, but various toxic chemicals to leech into the soil, underpaid factory workers taking in toxic fumes, and plenty of oil depleted from more and more scant sources. Not to mention the transport and refinement costs.



Yes, okay, disks pollute a lot, but hey, Global Warming is a big myth right? And anyway, all that stuff gets recycled right?

Well, I can't prove the man-made contribution to global warming here, or make you care about the political and personal effects of creating cheap toxic products in poorer countries (besides, they do at least get JOBS right?), and I don't intend to. Disks have many other downsides, which I mean to look at below. First, a little more of the effects post-production.

Disposal, Recycling and Green Alternatives: Not As Easy As They Sound

To start in reverse order, there are "Green" alternatives to the polycarbonate disk. Environmentalists and industry spokespeople have pushed the idea of re-claimed polycarbonate sourced from carbon waste to the top of google search. You look up polycarbonate, this is one of the first schemes you see.



Unfortunately, these theorists offer little evidence that their greener polycarbonate would be environmentally sound to synthesize, cheap to produce, or would even have a significant effect on the negative effects of polycarbonate disks. According to the BBC (quoted on an Acronym Required article), the actual numbers are not being discussed, and given other issues, could be exceptionally minor.

Disk recycling is also not as effective as one might be led to think. Most disks, like most electronics equipment only yields cheap plastic rods and other parts, not new CDs/DVDs. The components are hard to reclaim and often bonded with toxic glues. Often the detritus is actually sent to dumps or scavenger companies again in the third world, and taken apart for the few valuable components, again by underpaid workers, again with lots of hidden costs in terms of airplane fuel and truck emissions. Recycling sometimes helps, but sometimes actually contributes to greater environmental damage and risk. It all depends on the company and the specific situation.

Waste is a major problem for these disks. Of course, disk cases are made of paper, which means clear-cuts, usually on unceded native land in North/Central/South America. But the plastic waste, when not recycled, sits in the landfill and leeches chemicals (like Bisphenol A) for decades, if not hundreds of years. In China, more than 42 Million DVDs were recently shredded in one memorable moment. Plastic waste kills fish, contributes to toxicity in our oceans and unless you re-use at home as a coaster or other decoration, immediately contributes to the growing global landfill crisis (despite what Penn and Teller argue in their unscientific rants).



And even the cool coasters and frisbees you made will eventually be thrown out or used to strangle your cat.

Does that mean I hate games and will never own a disk? No. I love games, and despite what I see to be major problems I buy disks anyway, because I know I can't be perfect. I reduce my consumption where I can, but I can't solve the whole problem on my own. So what are some solutions that actually might help gamers still have fun?

The Advantages of Digital Distribution



What if we moved toward digital downloads without abandoning the awesome that is to be had with the occasional printing of a special edition disk or some other commemerative item? Let's say we restructured digital downloads to allow gamers to hold ownership of their games and not lose their rights?

Digital downloads are simply more convenient than disks. You don't even have to get off your glandularly malformed posterior to go to Sears or steal a copy from 7-11. You can get digital downloads at home, on your own computer, where no one can judge you.

Digital downloads are cheaper. Cheaper to produce and therefore could be made cheaper to acquire for poorer families. Cheaper production could also allow for more interesting games. We've certainly seen that with the original content coming out for XBox Live, Playstation Network, and WiiWare. Easier to distribute means better opportunities for indie developers.

A digital download system for larger games would need a lot of infrastructure, something like a legal paid torrent structure to overcome size and download speed issues, or closer to how Steam operates now. However, if handled well, and very differently than it is now by the major companies, the slow shift from disk-based sales to a Steam-like or other download-based structure could create all kinds of opportunities for developers and consumers. That's us! Hyuck!



The Compromise and the Problems We Face

Of course, as I've already pointed out, game companies aren't necessarily interested in using downloadable content to improve our rights as gamers. That's not to say they're malicious or evil, just that like all companies, they must do what is in the interests of their shareholders above all else.

Digital downloads can be abused, yes, and can open the door to piracy. But then, that door is already pretty wide, and it's only going to get wider. The solution lies not in disks, which are already openly copied, but in making piracy no easier than purchasing, and making games less expensive. That isn't a solution, obviously, but many analysts argue that it would help, at least in as far as anything would.

Digital distribution radically changes how we interact with games. I mean, many people already do this, but as a whole system, an alternative to the disk, it would mean a drastic change in the gaming economy. But as long as gamers protect their rights to something similar to Steam or other future services, the future could be very bright for gamers and developers, diversifying the source of our favourite art/hobby.



I don't hate disks. I still use them. But looking at the hidden costs they represent, I am more certain than ever we need a change in the way games are distributed, and to re-examine the role of digital distribution.


Some of my sources:

http://www.newscorp.com/energy/futurama.html

http://www.plasticseurope.org/Content/Default.asp?PageID=1225

http://acronymrequired.com/2008/04/green-cds-and-plastic-trees-po.html

http://www.cdrecyclingcenter.com/information/about_recycling

http://plasticsareforever.org/plasticsinks_complete.html

http://www.greenlivingtips.com/articles/245/1/DVD-and-CD-Recycling.html

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21880761/

http://plasticfree.blogspot.com/2007/02/plastic-free-dvds.html

http://www.physorg.com/news126884135.html

http://blue.imation.com/intotheblue//

http://www.worldwatch.org/node/1481

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_are_CDs_made

http://66.102.9.132/search?q=cache:VbDolON-2T4J:www.groovehouse.com/assets/pdfs/How_CDs_are_Made11.pdf+what+are+cd%27s+made+of%3F&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=ca

Also, this:

  read


11:00 AM on 11.13.2008

We Believe Your Brother Luigi May Be Clinically Depressed



June 15, 1980
Yo, diary!

Things are going great. My brother Mario wants to get a plumbing business going, seeing as how I just got my certification. Pauline and I are also getting along again, I think she might just be the one.

Got a bit of a sore neck this morning, but I'm sure it'll go away.

February 3, 1981
Hey Diary!

Man, what a weird day. First a gorilla, absolutely out of nowhere, gets loose, then takes my girlfriend up the new highrise. Don't you know it, though, my brother, sees himself some kinda hero or something, goes right up there and rescues her for me. He's a great guy! Didn't even freak when that beast started knocking over barrels left-right and centre.

I of course called animal control. I don't want nobody to get hurt or nothing.

Man, Pauline looks radiant today.



February 16, 1982
Hey Diary,

So Pauline turned me down today, turns out she's been into Mario ever since the incident. I told her about animal control, she didn't seem too excited. I don't blame her.

I guess I'll get over it. I mean, she's a fine lady, but just one broad in the sea, right?

In other news, I'm a little worried about big bro. He's almost obsessing with this gorilla thing. Insists on pushing it around in a little cage everywhere he goes. Says he's going to swing a deal with Ringling. I don't know. I don't want him to get hurt or nothing.

Neck hurts again today, but otherwise, I'm doing just fine!

August 24, 1983
Dear Diary,

What a great week it's been, just workin' beside the big bro, clearing out these bugs and turtles and crabs from people's pipes. I always thought the super-fast pink turtles in the pipes thing was an old wive's tale, but let me tell you, those things make me nervous. Mario is really into it though. I just can't bring myself to kick them into the wall once we knock them over. It seems cruel. I just wanna call animal control.

Still, the pay's good, and Mario seems to have lost interest in Pauline. If I could just get her number again. Man, she was a nice broad.



March 11, 1985
Dear Diary,

Well, it's just me in the pipes business for a while. Mario decided he wanted to work in demolition, taking down the skyscraper we built together back in the day. He says times change, guess he's right.

Sure was a good run we had though. Now if I could just get the guy to stop yammering on about his "magical turtle world" in front of potential clients. He's got to relax, get off the 'shrooms. He's poisoning himself just to feel big.

I'm thinkin' about seeing a chiropractor for my neck.

April 2, 1985

Holy crap in a 12 inch gutter line!

Mario wasn't just goin' nuts. Either I am too, or the big bro was telling the truth. He just showed me through this oddly placed green pipe. It's like there's a whole world in here. Mario and I took a walk through it today. He loves kicking those defenseless turtles. I'd call animal control, but I'm not sure they'd know what to do with this place. Mario keeps jumping on creature's heads like it's nothing.

You wanna know the truth, diary? This whole place creeps me out. Like why are there abandoned castle ruins all over the place? And Mario keeps taking the money out of those big blocks. I don't think we're supposed to be doing that.

Tried to get ahold of Pauline today. She's not answering my calls.

April 10, 1985
Hey, diary.

Well, it took us more than a week but we found that princess everybody keeps talking about. She's really nice. I'm even thinking of askin' her to a pizza. But what kind of name is Bowser for a lizard man?

That Princess is a classy lady. Maybe a little high maintenance though. Overdressed a bit. I just wish she'd stop calling me Mario. Everybody does over here! I've gotta stick to my green overalls for a while.

I honestly can't believe the adventures me and my bro have been on lately. And really, I don't mind if he gets all the credit.



August 21, 1986

Princes got captured again. This time seemed a lot harder to get around than last time. I think I made my impression on the lady though.

Finger's crossed, she'll come to pizza with me, after all that.

December 4, 1988

Mario keeps going on and on about that crazy dream of his. I was in it, and that little dude toad, and Peach. Except it didn't feel like us at all. LIke somebody else's world or something.

The Princess isn't all that into me, it seems. Caught her on Mario's arm after we rescued her for the third time. Seems Mario's getting all the attention. That doesn't bother me. My bro's a great guy. I'm sure my attention's coming soon!

May 17, 1990
Hello diary.

So, all the children in the America joined together to make a giant mario face this weekend. I'm cool with it. People like Mario, that means they like me, right? That's what my therapist said. Oh wow, I haven't mentioned my therapist in here before. That's gotta be a breakthrough. I'm callin' Rachel tonight. Maybe if I wasn't her patient she'd go out with me and I could put... well, stuff behind me.

[embed]111332:15804[/embed]

November 30, 1990

Apparently big bro's a doctor now? I don't know what he thinks he's doing now. I could be a doctor, but I got work to do.

Plumbing, now that's a career. I'm folding my arms as I write this. Slightly after I write this. Ah ya ya ya ya.



November 30, 1991
Dear Diary,

So Mario saved Peach again. He apparently didn't need me, although he did do it a bit in his Green overalls. I don't mind.

Now Mario's been invited to some golf tournament, and some Tennis thing, and he's teaching typing for some theatre company. I'm not jealous though. I'm not jealous. No Mario, I'm not jealous. Go away Mario! This is Luigi time! Luigi time!

Mario? Mario?

December 18, 1996
Hey Diary,

After a lot of games over the last few years, Peach took some time to make a great cake for Mario.

Great cake for Mario.

Also, he saved her again. Yoshi was on the roof.

I'm sure it was a great cake.

April 24, 2000

I'm doing great. The plumbing isn't doing too well, and I never seem to win a go-kart race against that koopa guy, but at least Mario isn't dragging me on any of his dates/rescue missions with Peach, or his sporting gigs, or his fine art career, or any other cake, but I'm doing just fine.

Hey, I love myself. I love myself.

Maybe I should check out that old abandoned mansion up the road. I'm sure nothing bad could come of that.

July 1, 2005
Hey Diary!

Mario wanted me along for a new caper!

I thought about it. I mean, I've got stuff to do. The ghost thing is going pretty well. And I'm looking at getting a new wrench. I better call him up!

It'll be just like old times.

And the neck pain surgery finally seems to be working!



June 31, 2007

Well now I'm stuck in a tree.   read


11:14 AM on 11.12.2008

OT Wednesday: Logic Lessons or 7 Fanboy Fallacies and How to Spot Them

Alright, so this is only about 90% off-topic, so sue me. Please. I really want to experience the whole court-room drama thing. Just to stand up and shout, "Relevancy your Honour!" or "You're badgering the witness?"

Hey, um, so one of the things lawyers do, apart from drink plasma milkshakes and grind vampire bats for food is look at logic. See? It's a segue!

Now I love logic, about as much as I love castles made of marshmallow. I don't always use it correctly, but then, sometimes I use the marshmallow castle wrong too. And yet it feels so right.

Today I wanted to examine fallacies. Not phalluses, that's next Wednesday, fallacies, falsehoods, things that are intrinsically wrong. They appear to link two statements, but in fact act as no link at all.



Before we get started though, a few quick rules.

1. Logic is a tool, not better or worse than emotion.

See, emotion has its place. I like people being all emotional, and to say they ought to be logical is basically a waste of everyone's time, since as far as we know, potentially barring a full lobotomy, there is no way to completely set aside emotionality. People who think that it is "wrong" to be emotional are probably not being as rational as they constantly tell people they are.

There is nothing wrong with basing a choice on emotion, as long as you know that's why you're doing it.

2. There is no evidence that women or men are better at logic.

Logic discussions always bring in the misogynists, and frankly, I'm tired of it. Yes, your girlfriend or ex-teacher doesn't see your "brilliant" logical argument for why you need Hustler mags, but that doesn't make them intrinsically less logical.

Many of the most logical people in the world are women. However, many are men as well. Given the complex way we're all brought up and the society around us, it is unrealistic to make generalizations even if you could dredge up relevant research.



3. Logical is not the same as "true" and also not the same as "rational"

Something can be logical without being rational. Rationalism (both classical and neo-liberal) is actually a very specific approach to the world, and not the only logical one. Something can also be true or false independent of whether you figured it out in a logical way or not. You could get to a "true" conclusion with fallacious reasoning.

See, a fallacy is like a sign that says "I am wrong, and covering it up with nonsense" except, unlike the sign, it actually cannot be right. Like a Jackson 5 reunion, it's impossible for Fallacies to be right.

That doesn't mean fallacies automatically lead to false conclusions. Far from it. A fallacy CANNOT prove a thing to be true, but that thing could be true by coincidence. For example, the following argument:

A) Obama is black
therefore
B) He won the vote in California.

Of course, the argument is ridiculous. There are many reasons why Obama won the vote in California. The argument is fundamentally flawed, but that doesn't make either of the individual statements false.



Make sense?

It's also possible to have an entirely logical argument that just happens to have a false (but logically valid) conclusion.

For example:

A)If it is true that pixies killed Kennedy from a castle on Mars, then Cats will Rule the Earth.
B) Pixies killed Kennedy from a castle on Mars.
THEREFORE
C) Cats Rule the Earth

None of this is true (one hopes), but it is completely logical.



Many people though, when cornered, use as much illogic as possible to push their crazy opinions. Why? Who knows. They don't know better? They're scared?

I think in a lot of the time, it's about power. Illogical arguments generally work better than logical ones because the appeal to emotion and prejudice. Logic makes us uncomfortable because it means closely examining our own beliefs. Logic isn't easy, and a strong logical argument is easy to examine for things like validity and soundness. It's much harder if you leap all over the map.

It is pretty common, then, for fanboys of any stripe to employ illogical, emotional arguments to defend their opinion and belittle challengers. They're easy, quick, and unexaminable. The central problem for these little arguments are that they are based on fallacies, things that falsely connect one point to another in a way that seems logical or rational but isn't.

There are many famous fallacies out there, and once you know them it's easy to spot them, and thus spot poor argumentation. Some are used primarily in essays, some in newspapers, some in press releases, and the seven I'm looking at tonight, in fanboy rants.



What seven am I going to introduce you to (or refamiliarize you with)? Why read the list below, and skip to your favourite.

1. Ad Hominem/Guilt By Association
2. Appeal to Authority
3. Appeal to Popularity
4. Appeal to Ridicule
5. False Dilemma
6. Begging the Question
7. Red Herring

BONUS ROUND: Middle Ground

Let's get started, shall we?

1. Ad Hominem

I personally believe that Ad Hominem attacks are the most common form of argument online, in Newspapers, in political debates or on panel programmes. Ad Hominem works both ways, both as a negative and positive, and is really, extremely powerful.

Ad Hominem means, literally "against the man," and refers to using a personal attack in lieu of actual evidence. I tend to expand it to be "to" the man though, meaning either for or against the individual person.

For example, Obama was often the more likable candidate in US debates (I might go as far as to say "always.") Many people used this to defend his positions, mocking the fact that McCain is old or makes unusual faces. None of this had anything to do with the substantive issues.



Ad Hominem means dismissing an argument because of the character, reputation or friends of the arguer rather than the substance of the argument. In its simplest form on the internet, it comes down to name calling. "You're gay," or "You're a Nazi though," or "You're basically a Jack Thompson wannabe."

Most of the time, this has no baring on the argument. If Hitler and Jack Thompson argued that the sun was made of burning incandescent gasses, that wouldn't make it false. If Einstein and John Stewart argued that the sun was made out of cheap yellow velour, that wouldn't make them right.

Being a bad person doesn't make you wrong. But fanboys use this all the time.

"Yeah, well, you're probably a high-school angst case living in his parent's basement."

"Yeah, well, you're just a fanboy."

"Well, since you're a hypocrite, you're obviously wrong."



All of these are actually used all the time, and very effectively shut people down, even though they aren't the least bit logical and in most cases even aren't based in reality. Next time you read it, try this two word reply: Ad Hominem.

By the way, I thought I'd slip Guilt By Association here, which is basically a form of Ad Hominem lite, in which people are "associated" with the bad people.

"That's the kind of thing a fat loner would say." for example, or "I hate ignorant bullshitters like you." You actually aren't calling the other person a name, but associating them with something bad. "I think Jack Thompson said something similar once" isn't actually an argument against somebody's opinion. It has nothing to do with substance, and everything to do with avoiding the issue.

Ad Hominem. Remember it and call it out. You'll be surprised how much it comes up in even the most revered news sites.



2. Appeal to Authority

The fact that Mark Rein likes your favourite game doesn't make it good. Lawyers thinking that Mumia Abu Jamal is a murderer doesn't make it so. It doesn't matter who your authority is, they can always be mistaken.

That doesn't mean logicians don't trust authority at all. Without access to all the research, sometimes you have to trust somebody in a relevant field. But that somebody in the field has an opinion isn't actually evidence. It's just an indication that there MAY BE evidence. If they're not in the field, though, they certainly should have no influence on the argument at all.

A few scientists dispute the existence of Global Warming. However, since few of these are actually currently educated climatologists, they should be studiously ignored unless the evidence they provide is itself compelling and relevant. The President might think children are being abused at camp, but that does't make it so. And just because Miyamoto thinks some games are too violent, that doesn't mean that they are.



Authorities can be useful resources, but saying that they agree with you isn't an effective argument. Relying on authorities without any other evidence is a major fallacy, and very common from the fanboy.

3. Appeal to Popularity

Ever hear the statement "20 million people can't be wrong?" Guess what. They can be.

No matter how popular something is, it has no baring on whether you are right or wrong. An appear to popularity is a fallacy in which somebody says, "X number agree with me, therefore I'm right."

But it is just as possible to be right and alone as it is to be in total agreement in a crowd.

The fact that game A is more popular than game B does not make it "better," only more popular/more well advertised. The appeal to popularity is a ploy, and quite frankly, a bad one.

4. Appeal to Ridicule

This is a common one on forums, where people drop a bomb and just leave

The appeal to ridicule is similar to the Ad Hominem attack, but could apply just as easily to the argument itself. Basically, it means making fun of an idea or a person instead of addressing the substance of the argument. For example:

"This the stupidest thing I've ever heard"

"I'm not even going to dignify this with a response."

"You're retarded."

All of these depend on a quick leap in and out, and basically take the place of actual arguments. Ridiculing your opponent isn't the same as actually proving them wrong, but it does make you look like you've got more than you do.

You probably don't.



5. False Dilemma

This is also known as the false dichotomy. It basically boils down to looking at the world in simple binary ways. Either thing A is true or thing B is. Which is it?

There is almost always a C, or D or E, it just may not be as clear as A and B, but people often use simple A/B dichotomies to try and force their opinion, often combining it with other fallacies, such as straw men.

"Okay wait, are you saying it's good, or that you hated it?"

"Well, did it have bugs, because if so, it can't be a good game."

"Either you love Spore, or all you care about is Gears of War."



Often these dilemmas are hard to spot, but far too often, they're there, and there is no room for them in an effective or meaningful debate. Nothing is either or, even basic facts of atomic physics. Shrodenger's cat may be both alive AND dead. Surely it is possible to have a nuanced view of the world?

6. Begging the Question

"You have to enjoy Gears of War 2, it has the best multiplayer out there."

This begs the question. Do we even want a game for the multiplayer? Sure some do, but you can't just assume we agree on a major issue as part of making your point.

Begging the question is NOT asking the question, raising the question, or demanding that the question be asked. It is ignoring the obvious question. An argument that takes a major problem for granted.



This is a major fallacy you find pretty much anywhere. Basically, your argument assumes some major premise that is yet to be proven or even presented. Economists are especially bad for this. During the NAFTA meetings, Canadian economists assumed that all Canadians would rather buy Canadian than American, even if the prices were better in the US, thus meaning no net job loss for Canadians. Of course, they had been begging the question, since this premise was far from proven, and in the end, they were wrong.

Begging the question means assuming some unproven premise of your argument on which the rest hinges. For example, "Final Fantasy games are the best games out there because their plots are the most mature."

Hang on, are their plots mature? This sort of thing is far too common and needs to be called out from time to time.

b]7. Red Herring[/b]



Red Herrings suddenly change the subject, but in a way that tricks your mind into thinking the non sequitor is somehow connected, when really you're deflecting the argument. For example:

"You ought to play Resident Evil 5, after all, ignorant people accused it so much of racism."

Wait, I don't want to help those who call wolf, but what does that have to do with whether I should play this particular game or not?

Another use of the Red Herring is to take you onto a totally different argument. This is most often done actually within a rebuttal. For example:

Person A: I liked Kings Quest 5 because it was non-violent.
Person B: So you think we should ban violent games?

Person B has actually changed the subject. This red herring is going to derail the whole argument and probably allow the original point (that he liked Kings Quest 5)to be forgotten.

The Red Herring is a great way for fanboys to derail discussion, pouring a lot of energy into a peripheral issue. Once you admit to one largely unimportant aspect of your argument being false, people are less likely to believe the rest, however much sense it will make.

BONUS ROUND - Middle Ground



Just a quick statement to say that this is also a common fallacy, especially by so-called "centrists" in political debate. Just because something is in the centre of two perceived extremes doesn't make it true. It doesn't even necessarily make you more reasonable. You can be stubbornly in the middle when the truth is actually closer to one of the extremes. Middle Ground is politic, and polite, but not an actual argument.

Conclusion

These are not all the major fallacies. There are many. In some cases I have employed some of these fallacies in their own description and analysis, but I hope that either way, you've found something useful here. Next time you're in an internet nerd debate or reading a newspaper or watching Fox, search for those fallacies, and see how many of the most obvious ones you can find.

Logic is a game! Play along!

And now, if you couldn't recognize these before, or had recently forgotten, I hope this helps.   read


1:51 AM on 11.12.2008

A Time to Build: The 3.5" Mix Tape (4 of 3)

Nobody read part 2, and even less nobody will read part 3, so I assume nobody at all will read part 4, even if forced into a room by Vanna White with a light saber.

Given that, I figure, this is the place to put those things that every blogger wanted to but secretly couldn't. Because absolutely no one will read this.

Lol is overused, be it expressed in ocopter, cat, or erskates fashion.

Comparing Disney movies to Anime TV shows is pretty ridiculous. Of course big-budget blockbusters animated in Korean sweat-shops are going to be better than a cheap, straight to TV affair. Why not compare the terrible US cartoons such as the original Spiderman or Hulk or Rocket Robin-Hood, which are more comparable in terms of the market and medium? Or compare most animated films to anything by a great anime director. Yes, there are some terrible anime series out there, but at least make reasonable comparisons that make some kind of sense.

[embed]111166:15782[/embed]

I may be allergic to gluten.

Trying a tech demo on a 360 is not sufficient evidence that the game will come out on that system. It may have been an idea they later abandoned.

The main character of Mulholland Drive is dying alone on her bed all the way through. Everything in the first half is a demented fantasy that slowly falls apart. Once clue is the line "Make it real" and the song "she is dead" in Spanish. That's what makes it so scary.

The old guy with white hair juggling to Beatles music isn't a very good juggler, and you're just being drawn in by the popular music and simple repetitive tricks. If you think otherwise, you really don't know much about juggling. It's an entertaining and interesting act, but not because of skill. Also, juggling fire is easy and should never be seen as a sign of skill. There's nothing more I can say about that, I know some non-juggler's opinions on this are completely intractable, so there's no point in further argument on the subject.

Mirror's Edge 2 is already in the works.

My cat is dead because we didn't love him enough.

Essex is a crazy place to live, and I feel bad for all the young moms and dads here that really thought it was a good idea to have a baby.

I am not a scorpio.

This is an awesome video:

[embed]111166:15783[/embed]   read


1:48 AM on 11.12.2008

A Time to Build: 3.5 Mix Tapes (Part 3 of 3)

In 1994, I spent nearly 100 Canadian dollars ordering the Pie in the Sky 3d Game Creation System.

I don't think you understand how obsessed I was with sharing content.

I owned a total of three FPS games, and that time, one. I barely enjoyed most of them. I played maybe twenty Death Matches before GoldenEye, and didn't do much beyond the middle difficulty in Heretic. I got to level three in Hexen.

I never played Counterstrike or Unreal Tournament or Quake, and barely touched Doom. I just did not care for that genre.

But I liked to create.



Of course, if you read parts 1 and 2, then you already know this. Sharing games was part of a decade for me, experiencing other people's creations and passing along my own. I made quite a few odd FPSs in those years with friends or on my own. I made the aforementioned "Bill Gate 96" in which the gate of evil is about to spring open, unleashing horrible disfigurement unto the world. All I remember from it now is that there were horribly drawn cow enemies that turned into hamburgers when you killed them, and that the last boss was supposed to be 97 windows, but due to constraints, I had to make the sprites groups of 2 and 3. You just couldn't have that many animate windows.

A friend and I made a vaguely educational shooter for a chem project in which you escaped the three levels of Phospherous, shooting each of the electrons along the way.



Does that make me a huge geek? If your answer is anything other than "YES" then you've obviously got some kind of serious brain dysfunction and should seek your local physician.

This all sets the stage for the mysterious appearance of Klick N' Play. The game that entered my life through a combination of happenstance and youthful selfishness.

I think like all pre-teens, I was a selfish dick. I kept thinking stuff was for me, when it was for other people, or the cat, or the orphans. I wanted stuff too, and probably couldn't understand a single decent reason why I couldn't have it. But I was industrious, and for me, almost anything could be rationalized as a productivity tool.

That was how I first saw KNP.

We were in the West Edmonton mall, at least, I'm pretty sure we are. Memories from that period are about as clear in my mind as a burlap sack full of lead. I was in the upper area, distraught that I--that's right ME--hadn't gotten a video game yet. With my allowance, obviously, i did work for it. For some of it.

How could this human travesty persist? How could I possibly go without that elusive awesome game they only sold in Edmonton? Oh cruel fates, release this terrible soulful hunger!

And then, I saw a white box. There wasn't just one thing from a game on the front, there was something from ALL THE GAMES. On the back, it seemed to be claiming you could make all these things jump out of the mouse, just like on the front of the box.



And it was published by Maxis! How could this possibly go wrong?

Well, as usual, I didn't read the requirements properly, and for the first few months of owning the damn thing, I couldn't run it at home. Like rogue cops in a system gone mad, this forced Michael and I to have to work together. Eventually, even my brother joined us in at the ground floor, and then friends popped over for scripting help. We traded games, retooled each other's ideas, even contributed art and scripting, handing across those buggy 3.5s.

This is how gaming 2.0 should work. Not simple toolkits crippled at the engine level, but whole game-making systems so easy my little brother could use it. These became memorable sources of new content, new adventures totally unique to our own circle. The absolutely custom KnP experience.

Of course, on day 1, I found you actually couldn't make a flying ladder, something so simple as to have been around in 1984. Doing so was pretty much impossible. There were other major limits as well, which nearly turned the box into a shattered wasteland of missed opportunities. In fact, I think I would have destructoid reviewed it as a 5 or 6.

At first.



But constraints force new ideas.

After working as a team in a cluttered basement, we started to create. A 2 player Tanks clone (including numerous unique weapons) of Michael's creation became a staple of our gaming, more so than many games we'd bought, brought it from computer to computer on those little squarish disks. I got lost in Henworth, my brother's medieval anti-wizard propaganda. We constructed an enormous, sprawling platformer that actually later on made a Captain Hook sized splash on the Internet. We traded racers, and puzzlers, shooters and runners, even prototype RPGs that never ever worked.

We also could cater to our own sense of humour in a way that just isn't possible when you let other people make content for you. I made "Where's Baldo" a cruel and nonsensical parody of the Wally/Waldo series, Ninja Fighter II Super Turbo, which consisted of different coloured highly pixelated blocks beating the ever-loving crap out of each other.



In a sense, I think the floppy era was what drove this content through. Today, everything, no matter how trivial, goes onto the internet. To me, this feels like it stymies stupid ideas that are going to get mocked, unless the presenter themselves is either A) Very confident or B) An idiot. Disks are a private affair, a circumspect system, ideal for encoding. The Internet, on the other hand, is like printing the combination to your bank vault on the door, which also happens to be open.

Now, friend-sites have the opportunity to open up the private content portal, but nothing will be the same as those stilted days of disks. Whether that's all good, or all bad is up to you, really. Things are certainly different.

One day, of course, I want to dredge up those old KnP games and share them over these new-fangled tubes, but for now, they remain unique gameplay experiences that cannot extend beyond a single circle. They are the ultimate in individual gameplay experiences still sitting on old, dusty, probably scrambled 3.5 mix tapes.

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