Phaedrus' Street Crew
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Posts posted by Noyb

  1. In addition to a few already stated (Schlock Mercenary, Kate Beaton), I've enjoyed these over the years.

    Links go to the first comic, if available.

    Currently Running:

    The Abominable Charles Christopher - Just read it

    Captain August - sci-fi comedy by Idle Thumber Rodi

    College Roomies from Hell - jumped the shark of late, but good character-based comedy/drama

    Dresden Codak - lengthy comics about philosophy, technology, and transhumanism

    Romantically Apocalyptic - postapocalyptic humor

    Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - geeky gag-a-day strips

    Shortpacked - geeks in a toy store

    Something Positive - about Boston misanthropes

    Subnormality - Best text dumps ever

    Three Panel Soul - gag-a-day, loosely geek-related


    1/0 - A cartoonist moralizes over how to treat his comic creations

    A Lesson Is Learned But the Damage Is Irreversible - philosophical musings by the artist behind Braid

    Copper - adorable sci-fi about a boy and his dog

    Hitmen for Destiny - weird, NSFW, and crudely drawn, but oddly compelling world-building

    The Japanese Beetle - political satire via Superman parody

    One Swoop Fell - Adorable comic about a bear trying to get a bird back home

    Tip Me Over Pour Me Out - Hilarious autobiographical comic

    Triangle and Robert - A triangle and a rhombus suffer existential angst at the hands of an inept cartoonist


    Fleep - science-themed amnesia mystery

    Nothing Is Forgotten - wordless coming of age story in the vein of My Neighbor Totoro

  2. "There are a few beams of light that shine through the cave of round butts and big boobs." --

    This is in an article that purports to criticize game developers for oversexualizing female characters. An article featuring many visual examples of what they're criticizing. IGN has turned a new leaf. Never again will they pander to the horny, straight, teenage male demographic! :shifty:

  3. How easy is the Android Market to use and find stuff by the way? Not just games, but also other applications etc.?

    Pretty dang terrible. Seems like you need to know exactly what you're looking for unless the most popular of the popular apps are to your taste.

    There's a short list of cross-genre recommendations on the front screen. From there you optionally choose a genre, and then can only see recommendations (either carrier or Google, not sure), Top Paid, Top Free, or the firehose of Just In. The Top lists follow some hidden formula that may take into account both total sold and user rankings. Not sure how much recent popularity changes factor into it. There's also no way to see "Top Rated in the past 6 weeks" or anything sane like that. No recommendations based on your browsing/rating/downloading history either, apart from spam in the user comments.

    The search is just a single text box with no explicit options. There are some options, but they're rather unusable to the average end user. For instance, you can search for all games by the developer of Game Dev Story with the search string pub:"Kairosoft Co., Ltd", but that requires you to know the exact text representing that developer on the marketplace. Searching for pub:"Kairosoft" yields no results. That specific search feature is only remotely usable if you go to an app page first, then click on the button to find other apps by that dev.

    The app search is exactly the same as the game search.

    I see recommendations for my carrier (T-Mobile) on the front of the marketplace, so it's possible that they provided me with a gimped version of the marketplace. :erm:

  4. Played a four hour session of Game Dev Story. Dang, that's addictive, even when it starts to feel like most of the options are more for narrative than mechanical purposes. Lots of weird game logic, like being unable to make sequels to popular games unless they're also well-reviewed. (Why can't I pull a Bobby Kotick? I'm also disappointed that buying magazine ads doesn't grease the wheels when it comes to the reviews, but I digress.) Seemed a bit buggy in my favor, telling me that my staff pulled an annual salary of $X, but only deducting $X/5 or some such weirdness, which made it pretty trivial to survive to the GameCube era. Feels a bit empty in the endgame when you have a huge hit-pumping company, but I enjoyed the time I spent.

    Gave the official Tetris a short whirl. Swipe controls performed pretty well at first, but I lost the tactile sensation as the game went faster.

    Also tried the demo of Pac-Man Championship Edition. I kept missing turns left and right. Not sure if that's the game or my unfamiliarity with swipe controls.

    I thought Reckless Racing was pretty fun.

    Controls surprisingly well, but I've never been a fan of top-down racing games.

    I would keep my eye on Android and Me if you don't already.

    Nice! I'll have to trawl through the archives sometime.

  5. Picked up an Android-based phone last month with a service renewal. It's my first smartphone ever. Big touch screen. Tiny little nubbin that's not much use as a d-pad.

    Played a bit of Angry Birds, which feels like Crush the Castle but dragged out ad nauseum. Also downloaded Nesoid Lite, an NES Emulator. Not going to be playing anything like Battletoads or Mega Man on it, but it works well enough for Bubble Bobble and The Adventures of Lolo so I'm happy. Looks like there's a port of Game Dev Story for $5, which I'll have to give a try.

    Any game recommendations? Anyone know of any trustworthy Android game review blogs?

  6. Just finished 'Splosion Man. I love the animation and sound design, especially the Donut song.


    I really hate the level design. It feels like half of the levels just completely abuse a time pressure mechanic (rising acid floors, dashing giant robots, moving spike walls, etc.), leading to most of the game feeling completely dependent on trial and error. Even though it did enough things right in the aesthetics to make me smile, I was hating the game proper by the end.

  7. Picked up The Path of Go on XBLA. Impulse buy at 400 Itchy and Scratchy dollars.

    For those who don't know, Go is a two-player board game originating in China. Players alternate placing tiles on a board, capture enemy pieces by surrounding them, and try to control as much territory as possible according to the game's rules. It doesn't sound like much written out, but it has been compared to chess in terms of complexity, and apparently there still hasn't been a Deep Blue-level AI made for the game.

    Never played it before, but I had a few friends over the years sing its praises. So I gave it a shot.

    The game begins with a short tutorial, where the Master of Go tells your avatar how to place tiles and capture enemy tiles. And then he tells you that capturing tiles isn't the point of the game. And then he says, and I quote, "Did you know that the Go board has a cavity to hold the blood of slain opponents?" Okayyy. That's a bit graphic for a simple board game. :erm:

    And then you play the Master of Go in a full game. And then you see that the quote applies very well indeed.

    My God do I suck at Go.

    The first game you play, you begin with three tiles already on the board. Despite this apparent handicap, he kicked my ass. Readily. I then discovered the Suggest Move button, which led me to a dishonorable victory of AI vs. AI. This did not help me at all, since at no point in the slaughter thus far did the game explain the strategic value of the opponent's moves or the suggested moves. The AI opponent also never seems to play moves which are immediately stupid (at least to my horribly untrained eyes), so it is absolutely necessary to outwit it.

    Still I went back. I played. I played some more. I eventually eked out a board state where I had more territory than the other player (43 to 38). Smug in my victory I passed my turn signaling my desire to end the game. It then told me I lost by 0.5 points? What is this treachery? Apparently the game gives the second player to move 5.5 free points to balance out the handicap he or she gets by moving second. I read about this in the manual. However, I didn't realize that the AI gets these free points since he places his tile first, but the handicap tiles are pre-placed on the board.

    So for the very first game of Go you play, not only do you have to beat the computer, you have to beat it by six whole points. All without being told anything regarding strategies, opening moves, or anything useful.

    I eventually lucked my way past it, and was rewarded by the master telling me that I had an evil twin. An evil twin who is so undoubtedly evil because he gets so pissed off while playing Go that he leaves games unfinished. He's evil because he ragequits, which of course cannot possibly be the fault of his master's teaching style. Part of the plot involves atoning for his sins by finishing his games. I am serious.

    Only after finishing the first game am I given Go puzzles (like chess puzzles, you know?) that start to teach me something resembling strategy.

    Just for fun, take a look at the game's screenshots on the Marketplace. Do it now. Take a very close look. Notice anything interesting? No? Look closer.

    The gamertag being used is GoCheatProfile2! Cheat profile! They needed to cheat their way through the game just to take screenshots!

    Go seems like a fun, deep game, but my god does this implementation do a terrible job at easing the player into it.

  8. Just beat it yesterday.

    Like others here, I was really impressed by how alive the stations felt. People were there doing their own things. Didn't feel like they were saying anything for my benefit. And it feels weird seeing children in games again, when so many action games go to such pains to exclude them.

    The characters weren't especially well fleshed out, but the dialogue walked a fine line between gravity and levity that I absolutely loved.

    Combat was solid enough. I didn't experience any issues with psychic guards on normal, but there were many, many ways for stealth to go awry. You could step on grass, hit dangling cans (intentional jury-rigged alarms!), walk into firelight, have a throwing knife glance off your target's body armor, not notice the dude walking up stairs behind you, forget to turn off your flashlight, etc. Plus, I couldn't afford

    the stealth suit, which was apparently only sold in one location in the game(?)

    , which made things a lot harder.

    The ending was satisfying, if a bit emotionally dissonant. Although apparently that's intentional, since

    there are two possible endings, and I got the more violent one


    Only glitch I ran into near the end was hilarious and not at all game breaking:

    The enemies tried so hard to stop me with psychic attacks that a loading screen took me back to the main menu, without even seeing any credits. I wasn't entirely sure whether this was a rushed Bioshock-style ending or not until I continued and found myself in a new area.

  9. The XP progression system in this game is one of the most cynical and gratuitous implementations of it I've ever seen*. :(:(:(

    Earning points unlocks levels which make it easier to earn points and last longer on all of your next tries by giving you more lives, higher multiplier rewards, and more bombs.

    The game's difficulty can vary wildly depending on what songs the player chooses. Hence, you can't trust that the player will experience a steady progress curve over the first few hours, where each try results in the player getting better or lasting longer. So it fakes it by gradually lowering the difficulty over the first few hours of play. It artificially triggers the pleasure we get by getting better at a game, except fully independent of the player actually learning anything.**

    It doesn't lock out content by time investment (which is a whole other issue), but it completely undermines its score attack component by ensuring that someone who has played it for four hours can earn points significantly easier than someone who has only played it for two hours even if they have the same skill sets in shooters! Two people with similar skills on the same song can only adequately compare their scores if they have progressed to the same level.

    And if the player's intent isn't to play competitively, but to just zone out to his or her music, that too is hindered artificially by these unlocks, since they affect how long even a casual player can last.

    Bah humbug. :(:(:(

    * Outside of upgrade-heavy Flash games.

    **Or more likely just artificially enhancing the natural skill progression. Instead of scoring 10,000 more than your last run, you might score 50,000 more.

  10. Game Informer is owned by GameStop, FYI. It's possible that they have a decent editorial staff, but that fact alone has stopped me from ever considering reading it. Potential for huuuge conflicts of interest there.