Phaedrus' Street Crew
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About Manresa

  • Rank
    Thumb Tourist

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Not Telling


  • Location
    Too Close to the Hayward Fault
  • Interests
    Dogs, Synthesis, Video Games
  • Occupation
    Data Visualization
  • Favorite Games
    Civilization, Lumines, Rock Band, Flower
  1. Pinball Club

    Anyone playing on PS4 or via Steam? I’m desperately in need of friends to compete against, especially in Pinball FX 2 PS4 & Pinball Arcade PC. My Playstation ID is zovietfrance & Steam ID is Manresa.
  2. Far Cry 2

    Done! Steam says 47 hours, but at least two of those were paused while I walked the dogs or poured a drink. It's got issues, most of which are well know (long travel times, kamikaze enemy vehicles, repetitive missions, etc.) and I also had a few times where the physics got in the way of completing missions--the nitrous truck would get hung up on the geometry of the garage, for example. I did get a sense of why Far Cry 2 is so well loved: Running into a pair of buffalo and thinking I was a bout to have a Franics Macomber moment, only to have the animals fall over dead as they hit the side of my car. Shooting a guard in the face just because he said I didn't have the guts. Watching enemies scramble as a case of ammunition detonated in their midst. My most Idle Thumbsy moment was nailing an oncoming assault truck with a grenade launcher, watching it arc up in the air, and the dawning realization that it was headed right for me. Ouch. Does anyone know why the ending series of missions is so linear? I'm assuming it was on purpose, but can't think of a good reason why it was designed that way.
  3. Curiosity – What's Inside the Cube?

    It might be a video of a live cat, but we won't know until the box is open.
  4. Far Cry 2

    That's easily the best part--I've been to Africa, and Far Cry 2 nails the savanna. I do like to feel like I'm making progress, however. Off to go assassinate a chief of police.
  5. Far Cry 2

    This game is trying to make me hate it. Midway through the tutorial mission Carbonell explains how to search for diamonds, and then explicitly says "But don't do that now, you're sick. get some medicine at Mike's Bar." So I start to drive to Mike's Bar, and die of malaria. OK, I must be too slow. Go back to save, try to skip his dialog (I can't) and drive faster. Die. Try again. Die. Restart at an earlier save, try to clear the guard post and drive straight to the bar. Die. Try again. Die. Start at an earlier save, go faster, die. Die. Die. Die. Die. Die. Look up on the internet what to do, die. Try a different search string, wait what? I'm supposed to find the diamonds before getting the medicine? One entire evening of gaming wasted on a poorly written tutorial. At least I made it through. I'm playing on a PC, so I couldn't throw my controller through the window. Now I'm just suffering with the respawning check points and endless driving.I see glimpses of the brilliance (the whole damn game is built to be emergent) but I'm not there yet. 9 hours played and only 8% completion, and I'm employed, and have dogs, and a significant other. At least I finally figured out what F5 was for.
  6. I mentioned Emotional Design rather than The Design of Everyday Things because the episode was more about aesthetics than functional design, and I find it fascinating that beauty by itself improves usability. Even if a paper cutout, cardboard chit, plastic chip, or metal coin had the same information, the more pleasing components could make a game easier & more fun to play. This is in contrast to whether or not a NATO symbol or an icon of a tank is a better representation of an armored division in an operational wargame. I agree that the best, most functional designs are pared down to the bare essentials (I'm a data visualizer, and cringe every time I see an over-wrought infographic). But they should still be elegant. I would love to hear a full 'cast about interface design and usability sometime in the future.
  7. I always think of the Avalon Hill game: On the topic of this episode, usability guru Donald Norman's Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things argues that beautiful objects are inherently more functional than ugly ones: Advances in our understanding of emotion and affect have implications for the science of design. Affect changes the operating parameters of cognition: positive affect enhances creative, breadth-first thinking whereas negative affect focuses cognition, enhancing depth-first processing and minimizing distractions. Therefore, it is essential that products designed for use under stress follow good human-centered design, for stress makes people less able to cope with difficulties and less flexible in their approach to problem solving. Positive affect makes people more tolerant of minor difficulties and more flexible and creative in finding solutions. Products designed for more relaxed, pleasant occasions can enhance their usability through pleasant, aesthetic design. Aesthetics matter: attractive things work better. I.e. casino-style poker chips, metal coins, and well-crafted miniatures may actually help us play better.
  8. Yeah, that was a disclaimer. I'm very much part of the American majority culture--to the point where it's (almost?) impossible for me to put myself in the shoes of someone who's not.
  9. So they'll be punch-drunk? This could be fun.
  10. I came into this thread a bit trepidatious about stating my dislike of the book, and it turns out to be the majority opinion. I did not identify with the characters at all. As someone who's usually the whitest white guy in the room I just do not understand how people can be so obsessed with racial identity. Archy was just a caricature of a funk-loving black guy. Why does Gwen put up with Archy, especially when 8 months pregnant? I kept reading, somewhat intrigued by both the blackmail storyline & the legal trouble of the midwives, and they both just ... end. In the case of Flowers, Luther, and Gibson Goode, not convincingly. I'm also a little put off by Archy "growing" by becoming a real estate agent, in 2004, in a minority community in the Bay Area. (Lots of fraud and huxterism with mortgages at the time.) Huh. I live 10-15 minutes from Columbia, and it's a sterile suburban nightmare. (And I'm pretty sure it's overwhelmingly white, and has been since at least the 80s). I felt the same way, and was similarly relieved by both Jake's admission & the tenor of this thread.
  11. I don't think games media is substantially worse, if at all worse, than other forms of entertainment journalism. Take music, for example: the main media for music is radio, and the only time radio isn't an advertisement for the publishers it's a literal advertisement, except for the single hour of public service content broadcast at 6:00 Sunday morning. With movies, how many people read a review in the New York times, versus see an actor on late-night talk show? Or hear a story on NPR about the ridiculous ways movie studios avoid paying royalties, versus US Weekly's coverage of Jennifer Lopez's "tight abs"? I'm not saying this is good, it's just the norm. Book criticism may be more substantive, but at this point most books are niche. On another note (to the Thumbs' crew), don't sell yourselves short. At the same time you guys are going "some of our listeners have important jobs" I'm amazed that you put together a literate podcast about the interaction of video games with society (I think that's a fair description of Idle Thumbs) in your spare time. All I do is walk the dogs, mix drinks, and play read about video games.
  12. Good stuff ... I had no idea NASA was promoting Earth science so much back then (Landsat & most of the other early Earth observation satellites hadn't even launched yet--just 2 types of weather satellite.)
  13. My job is working with NASA's pictures of Earth from space, so I was thrilled by the discussion of astronaut views, and the change in perception they caused. Here's some related links (if anyone wants more, just ask): Every photograph ever taken of the Earth from above low-Earth orbit, including the famous "Earthrise" photo from Apollo 8, and The "Blue Marble" from Apollo 17: better scans of Earthrise: and a re-creation: and the Blue Marble: possibly the best image of Earth, ever:
  14. Crap. I just erased my (brilliant, of course) post. Suffice it to say "I had to build all of this for my research ... and my experiments" is one of the worst lines ever written, in any media. Yet the allure of the treasure goblin has led me to hear it at least 5 times (once per class).
  15. I just finished reading this last night, and then went and re-read the first chapter this morning. I'm still trying to wrap my head around what actually happened. Is it even knowable? When's the book podcast? I'm dying to listen to three bright guys discuss this for an hour (or two).