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Topics - Tal

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Everything Else / Irrational things that make you angry
« on: July 06, 2006, 12:16:10 pm »
Got something that makes you angry for no good reason whatsoever? Post it here. Remember, irrational means that you can't think of why this annoys you or makes you angry, but it still does.

Let me see...

Dried ketchup crust
Plastic flamingos
Air compressors
Guineas (The birds, not the islands)
Spelling magic as "magick"
People who can speak English, but point at you and speak (insert language you do not know) then laugh
Dirty pennies
Running over a snake on a dirt road, then looking back to see that he's still alive
Signs that say "Slow Children at Play". If these children are so slow, why let them play outside?
Tinted windows
Stuff that glows in the dark
Furry caterpillars
Really big rats
Flying encyclopedias
Squeaky shopping carts

Anyone else got a few?

Everything Else / If you could use magic...
« on: July 05, 2006, 09:33:34 am »
I started working on a short story a while ago that suddenly has become a long story, and I thought that the concept was interesting enough to warrant a topic. The basic premise of the story is that while it is set in the present-day, magic is commonplace and available to most anyone who wants it. Now, we're not on the level that is seen in some fantasy novels, as magic is mostly low-power and used for everyday things. I had quite a few ideas for how to implement the concept of simple, common magic into our mundane society, but I was wondering if anyone else wanted to contribute. It's actually quite an interesting thing to think about.

The question is: How would you use magic in your everyday life? Also, how could you see magic being used by society as a whole?

The kind of magic I'm talking about is generally simple, cheap, and is easily used. Ex: Lighting a cigarette with your finger, seeing in the dark, using telekinesis to tie your shoes, drying yourself off after a shower, calling minor spirits to assist you in simple tasks, stopping a wound from bleeding, contacting the souls of the dead, making a drink cold or hot at will, getting animals such as pets or livestock to obey you, creating your own dreams, using telepathy with someone you know well, etc... Feel free to be creative.

Also, these can be as serious or as silly as you want. The story already sits somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, so toss out anything you like.

Movies / Snakes on a Plane
« on: June 16, 2006, 07:05:06 pm »
Does anything else really need to be said? I love this movie, despite the fact that it hasn't come out yet. After all, with a title like that, what could possible go wrong?!

Spore: General / Word is spreading...
« on: March 05, 2006, 02:16:27 pm »
Just today, I was checking the newest 8-Bit Theater comic when I noticed that the artist, Brian, had mentioned something about SimEarth. Clicking on his link, I saw that he had provided a link to the Google Video Spore Gameplay segment. Checking the forums, I saw that already, a topic about Spore had sprung up and that it was growing rapidly. So, I decided to check in and name-drop for Steve.

What's the point of all this? It's that the news about Spore is spreading, and big names are starting to take notice. Nuklear Power has quite the following and many people are very interested in Spore. With the word getting out, there should be quite a buzz by the time of E3. However, the beauty is that this buzz will be fan-made. When you have a game that creates this much interest and attention, you know you're doing something right. Slowly but surely, Spore is gonna infect the Internet, spreading the news of it's ambition.

And where will all these new fans go? Here, of course. Steve has the biggest forum in the world dedicated to Spore. His podcast, besides being damned good anyways, included a segment on Spore every week. He also quite possibly knows more about the game than any other person in the world besides the dev team. In other words, this site is gonna become the world's nexus for Spore. This is gonna be big. And we need to be prepared to spread the word too. On other forums, we, the members of Gaming Steve's forums, should help spread the word about this game. The more buzz, the better, in my opinion.

PC Games / An interesting idea...
« on: February 22, 2006, 03:05:41 pm »
Today I was reading the first Foundation novel by Isaac Asimov for my English class, when I stumbled across something that I found interesting. <SPOILER ALERT> In the book, Hardin saves Terminus from Ancreonian invasion by reminding the other kingdoms of the power of nuclear technology and the inevitable destruction of their nations by the conceptual nuclear-powered Ancreonian Navy. <END SPOILER ALERT>

Well, this got me thinking about all sorts of things. First of all, I thought of how complex yet subtle that strategy was. Then I thought of how to apply this to games. The most obvious genre, of course, is RTS games. I have yet to see such a skillfully-orchestrated diplomatic strategy implemented in a game. Sure, I've seen all manner of military tactics that are pure genius when done by a good player, but it surely would take some kind of thinking to come up with a plot like that. Even if one could think of it, there has yet to be a game that I have played that would have, in theory, the tools to let you do this.

Civilization is the first game I'd think of. Sure, the game is largely a race for technologies as much as it is a race for resources or troops. In fact, Civilization is the only game I have ever played in which I won without a single shot being fired. Through giving out lesser technologies and allowing trade routes and missionaries into my territory, I was able to focus purely on teching up and building a culture unmatched by any of my opponents. However, Civilization still comes up a bit short in the scenario I'm thinking of. Though, if your enemy did try to use military power to get the Fission tech from you, you could inform your neighbors of his intent and have them fight him for you, sure. That sounds about right, but it's still missing the invasion aspect. For example, if you're defeated in Civilization, as far as I know, the enemy doesn't have the ability to absorb your technologies into their own nation.

In Rise of Nations, the broad, sweeping technology tree and use of subtler diplomacy is unusual in a fast-paced RTS game, but it worked so well here. Now, I remember spies being able to inflitrate enemy installations and give you line-of-sight, but stealing technologies wasn't among their powers, if I remember correctly.

Empire Earth 2 had a nice little diplomacy system, allowing people to barter all sorts of stuff, including troops, to get what they wanted. It featured the chat system and the ability to plan strategies on the battle map. All of that was cool and all, but it still lacks the tech-stealing feature that intrigues me.

The game I'm thinking of, to do this right, would be turn-based RTS, but it could be applied to RTS if you wanted a faster-paced game. Now, we take the excellent technology systems from Civilization and RoN and combine them. First, we have the broad categories of techs, each level of which must be unlocked RoN-style. After that, individual techs must be researched by themselves. However, along the way, a bit of subtlety will help a crafty player. Let's say that one of the other players posesses nuclear technology. You have unlocked the atomics section of the tech tree, but have yet to invest in nuclear missiles. The number of turns and resources consumed seem unusually high to you. So, you build a spy unit and send him into enemy territory, where he can take up residence in the nearest research station or nuclear silo. There, you can activate his power to smuggle documents about the selected technology, in this case nuclear missiles, to you. So, with this new information, the number of turns and cost to produce the nuclear weapons tech are dramatically reduced. Or, if you're really in need of the nukes, you can have the spy attempt to smuggle a working model across the border to you, thus giving you one free nuke to either use or dissect for its secrets.

In another scenario, let's say you have just conquered an enemy that possesses the secret to nuclear power and weaponry. Now, being a smart opponent, you destroy his armies and capitols, but you leave his infrastructure intact, as it will soon belong to you. In most games, I see a disturbing trend of massacring every building. Buildings that, in a realistic setting, are now yours to keep and yours to plunder. While farms and barracks won't get you much, an intact research station is valuable indeed. Looking through it, you can send in your own researchers to unlock the secrets of your former enemy's technology. Having saved these technologies, you are now in possesion of valuable secrets that will put you far ahead of any remaining opponents.

Now, in the same scenario, let's say you are the one with the nukes. However, having neglected your ground troops, you find yourself under attack. Pulling a Hardin, you warn your neighbors of what will happen if your warmonger enemy gets control over your nuclear secrets. Then, in a temporary union, your enemies ward off the attack of your neighbor to save you and themselves. However, now they'll want something in return, something tangible. Passing off some other technologies might save you, but if they demand your nuclear secrets, you might just have to give them up...

See, what I am talking about is a game that really opens up all sorts of paths to take to victory. Sure, you have good old war, but now you can add in diplomacy on a very real scale, perhaps even surpassing that of Civ. Also, there should be a purely economical way to gain victory. Like how Terminus becomes a nexus of technology, repairing old ships and providing services to other worlds. Now, imagine that, but in a game. The ability to become a sort of "neutral ground" nation where others can come to utilize your services and buy technologies and units from you. If we throw in the massive EE2 barter system, you can produce entire armies for your opponents, sell them to them, and gain a profit. Or, you could be an area where battle is prohibited, and enemies can send their diplomats to discuss peace treaties and other political manuvers.

On another tangent, a cultural victory, much like in Civ should be available. Through both superior culture and an influential religion, you could gain victory just by being more intelligent that the barbarians around you. If they attempt to cross your border, their army could be rendered paralyzed by the beauty of your cities or the magnificence of your buildings. This would buy you valuable time to find an alternative solution, or deploy your own troops. Or, like Terminus, you could be the center of a religion accepted by your enemy's troops and people. Any city owned by you could not be attacked unless your enemy renounced their faith and threw their economy into anarchy. In battle, their troops would suffer a demoralization penalty against your holy warriors. Of course, you would suffer no such effects, as you could simply brand your enemies heretics and attack regardless. Though, if your attack failed, you would be at the mercy of a nation that no longer follows your faith and will not suffer any penalties.

Also, it would be interesting to have control over the technologies you give away. For example, lets say your temporary allies from above force you into giving up the secret to nuclear weapons. While you are merely using the atomics section to generate easy power for your economy, your opponents intend to wage nuclear war. Like in RoN, there should be a limit to the number of nukes that can be thrown around before the world ends. Seeing the end of the world as bad for business, you decide to use a secret power of your own. Having given them the technology, you can now directly influence how it is used. For example, you could assume that your researchers gave them incomplete data and force them to take a few turns working out the kinks and making a few connections that were left out. Or, you could keep the missiles from launching by utilizing a special device installed on them by unknowing techies, giving you a few turns to work out a treaty or mobilize your forces. Finally, by paying quite a bit of resources, you could "retard" their knowledge of nuclear weaponry. This indicates that you gave them faulty information or left out some key bit, like how to process uranium-245. This causes the tech to slowly fade from their list unless they pay a hefty bit to get it back or barter with you to stop the retarding process.

Alright, my fingers hurt. I'll post more later, but let me have your thoughts on this.

Everything Else / Horrible treatment of children!!
« on: February 08, 2006, 03:44:28 pm »
Today, while in Wal-Mart, I was simply browsing around, looking for a Valentine's Day present. Then, out of nowhere, I see this woman round the corner with her two children in tow. However, the boy and girl, both of which couldn't have been over six, were wearing signs around their necks that had the same message written on both sides, "I have been suspended from school for misbehaving. Please laugh at me. This is part of my punishment."

Now, this, to me, is terrible! I cannot understand how this woman could bring her two kids into a store and purposely embarrass them that much! The boy was crying, pleading with his mother to take the sign off. The litte girl was also beginning to bawl, most likely from the multitude of staring people. Now, I'm no expert, but I took high school Psychology, and this was apalling treatment! This kind of punishment is absolutely not necessary and will most likely leave mental scars on those poor kids' psyches.

Thankfully, no one laughed. In fact, most people were making angry remarks and staring in disbelief. Wherever she went, total strangers would congregate behind her and speak in hushed tones about her and the terrible treatment she was administering.

Now, once again, I'm no expert, but according to what I learned in US History, the 8th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America says "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." Now, I believe that this treatment extends into the cruel and unusual punishment clause. I'm all for spanking a child when they do something wrong, but this is just too much.

Now I'm asking for your opinion. What do you guys make of this. And, do you believe that such a route of punishment is necessary, or even legal? I'm not sure if the Amendment applies to private citizens and their actions, but this is just plain unAmerican.

Spore: General / Spore-related poem
« on: February 03, 2006, 03:07:19 pm »
Well, today I checked out a book by Richard Ellis, called Aqua Genesis: The Origin and Evolution of Life in the Sea. Besides being incredibly interesting, the book contained an excerpt from The Tempest, by Erasmus Darwin in the preface. Now, normally, poetry doesn't interest me. This, however, was too amazing to pass up. It seems to me that this outlines the early phases of the evolutionary cycle as seen both in real life and in Spore. Also, this is very well written and enthralling to read, encompassing vast scopes of time and development.

Hence without parents, by spontaneous birth
Rise the first specks of animated earth...
Organic life beneath the shoreless waves
Was born and nurs'd in ocean's pearly caves;
First forms minute, unseen by spheric glass,
Move on mud, or pierce the watery mass;
These, as successive generations bloom,
New powers acquire and larger limbs assume;
Whence countless groups of vegetation spring;
And breathing realms of fins and feet and wing.

I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I did.

Console Games / Just got my 360!
« on: January 27, 2006, 05:52:38 pm »
There's actually a story to be told before I talk about the system itself, so let me relate to you all the saga of Tal and his 360.

This 360 was preordered by my parents back in August. Sure, not the best time in the world to decide you want a 360, but meh. It was supposed to be a Christmas gift, but we all know how that turned out for a lot of people. But, I was patient, seeing as in how Oblivion wouldn't be out 'till March anyways, I figured I could stand to wait a while. And wait I did. EB called yesterday to tell me that a 360 preorderer had forgotten to pick up their system, and I was next in line. So, I was overjoyed. However, because my parents were taking a trip to Atlanta at the time, there was no one to go with me. I could drive to Savannah, but I'd rather not take that risk while my parents are off on a trip. So, I waited patiently as the hours ticked by. Today at school, I was extremely bored in Yearbook class. I was so bored that I had taken to pacing around the nearly-empty classroom. Then, I was dismissed over the intercom. Being the paranoid person that I am, I thought I was in trouble. So, after a phone conversation, I meet up with my parents at a convenience store, and we head back out to Savannah. But, you have to realize, they'd been driving for four hours already, and took one more going to Savannah and another coming back. So yes, this was very generous of them, not to mention then paying for the actual system and a game. Without Oblivion, I instead bought Call of Duty 2, having played the original and wanted a good shooter. As a bonus, they went ahead and reserved me a copy of Oblivion for the March release.

Now, the 360 is a weird looking piece of hardware, even though we've seen pictures of it on the Internet for months now, it just looks a little strange. But, once you get past the hood, you get a feel for what's running under it. Booting it up, it made no sound at all and setting it up was a snap. However, once I popped in CoD2, the thing starts sounding like a whirlwind. So, I just turned up the volume to offset this imbalance.

Once Call of Duty 2 started up and I began in the first Russian mission, I was blown away. Sure, this isn't exactly the huge graphical leap that was promised, and sure, there are PC games that look as good and better. However, I've always had a mid-range PC, and this was a whole new world to me. The sheer amount of detail, the awesome lighting effects and physics engine were astonishing. I do not own a high-def TV, but the graphics were amazing nonetheless. To me, I couldn't tell the actual difference. Overall, I was amazed at these graphics. If the PS3 is as powerful as the specs say, then my head is likely to explode when I see it in action.

I haven't really gotten into Xbox Live and don't plan to, as I'm not a really big multiplayer person. From what I can see, though, the interface is clean and easy to understand and navigate.

The only problems I have with the 360 are the quirky design, the really loud sound it makes, and the sheer size of the power unit. Have you guys seen this thing?! It's bigger than my cat!

*Note* Wireless gaming is the best. How did we ever live without this?

Movies / Land of the Dead
« on: June 24, 2005, 03:52:39 pm »
Well, it seems that Romero has done it again! Land of the Dead came out today, and let me tell you, it was a glorious hour and a half. Land follows perfectly in the tradition of Night, Dawn, and Day. It plays on the fears and prejudices of our American society today. From the huge gap between social classes, the heightened security measures post 9/11, and fear of the "terrorists" the American government uses on us, Romero has perfectly used the undead to represent such things. Big Daddy, the spiritual descendant of Bub, is an instant classic zombie, and his cohorts, soccer player zombie and butcher zombie, are also memorable. If you watch the film, it is apparent that Romero is a liberal with balls, and in some cases outright defies the status quo of our society in the imagery of Land.

Just one thing. The humans no longer have our full sympathies. The zombies lead an idyllic existence all alone. But then, we come with noisy vehicles and blasting machine guns, ruining their almost-dead lives. As you watch the journey of Big Daddy towards Fiddler's Green, you can't help but root for the zombies as they continue on their grisly approach. Watch carefully, and you'll see Romero's social satire in these scenes. The horror here isn't in the zombies becoming more intelligent, nor is it in the dehumanization of the surviving people. It is in symbolism of these two power groups, and what they represent. A crusade for eternal peace on one side, and a city of vice and debauchery on the other.

The gore is great, and sometimes you can't help but wonder how in the hell they got away with some of the stuff they put in there. Though Tom Savini didn't do the effects, the new guys are pretty good at what they do. It helps that the man Savini himself trained them. Savini's cameo had me applauding, just for the nostalgia of Dawn. The action is a little bit too much for a Romero film, but I'm betting the producers had to force him to put it in. Let's face it, most moviegoers aren't going to notice the social commentary or the symbolism, what they will notice is the gunfights and the fact that lots of stuff blows up. Many were worried that the CGI would dominate the film, but it is really hardly noticeable. The only part that really stood out was the nearly-headless zombie attack scene.

This film ranks definently above Day, and is about as good as Night, but no zombie movie will ever top the sheer awesomeness of Dawn. Not the crap-fest that was Dawn '04, but the 1978 version. A true classic if there ever was one. My advice is to just go see the movie. You'll enjoy it no matter what. The real reason to go see it is to put money in George's pocket, and to prove to him that a new trilogy is a good idea. *Hint, hint*

Everything Else / Nvidia's New GPU
« on: June 22, 2005, 03:16:53 pm »
It seems that Nvidia has released the new 7800.

Read all about it here:

That's a great card, but damn is it expensive! You'll get your money's worth, but at $600, that's one heck of a hit to most gamers' wallets. I'll be getting one, and I'll stay with it for as long as possible. But with those specs and performace readings, it looks like it'll be pure gaming bliss.

PC Games / Call of Cthulhu inspired RTS (Personal Idea)
« on: May 21, 2005, 06:10:17 pm »
I was poking around on Gamespot when I noticed the growing number of Lovecraft-inspired games. However, it seems that they are all confined to the FPS/Action/Adventure genres. Let's think outside the box here for a second. How about a CoC game, set not in the 30s or modern day, and not an FPS/Actio/Adventure title, but a *gasp* Real Time Strategy title set in the near future? Before you flame me or dismiss this topic, lemme have a moment or two of your time.

The End Times. Gives you chills, eh? How about setting the game during the end of the world, when the Old Ones have awakened and humanity is going to hell in a handbasket? This setting not only is the most unexplored, but it is also the one that offers the most fun and excitement.

Three different forces. Humans are a definite yes, since you basically can't have a game set on Earth without including something about us in there. The Mythos is set in stone, since it's always fun to play as the bad guys once in a while. Third, the Yithians. No, I'm not talking about the sissy cone-shaped bodies they inhabited in Precambrian Australia. I'm talking wayward minds that have come to Earth from the farthrest reaches of the universe inhabiting various bodies to capitalize on the End Times and uncover a way to rejoin their fellows in the beetle bodies of distant-future Earth.

Branching tech trees for each force that entwine. Humans can research the Human, Magic, and Machine Corps trees. The Mythos begins by building a temple to one of the Outer Gods, and follows along on their path of associated heroes, avatars, and units with Azathoth, Shub-Niggurath, and Yog Sothoth as the branches. The Yithians will follow along three disciplines of assualt from Land to Sea to Air, depending on your play style and the map environment.

How about having each force start off in a different situation? Being almost crushed and near defeat will put a damper on any civilizations day, so the humans both in the campaign and the multiplayer, will start off scattered across the map in small settlements. This takes away the advantages bestowed by thier superb defenses and forces the player to really get moving. The Mythos will usually start in a good defensive position with plenty of time to act. Given their slow nature, they'll need it. The Yithians will have no fixed bases, and can begin anywhere on the map. With no buildings, the Yithian hero units are used to call down dropships with reinforcements. This really emphasizes their assault-based mobile nature.

Resources will work differently for each race. Humans gain requisition (ala Warhammer 40k) by conquering new territories and building fortresses on them. Materiel is gained by building depots on top of supply dumps. Mana (For magic tech tree units and technologies) is automatically gained by conquering new territories that have ley line nexi on them. Build a research station to gain it faster, while an Sanctum Arkanus will generate it even faster. For non-magic using players, the mana can be converted into artifacts that, when dropped into a territory, will double the speed of requisition generation in that territory. The Mythos uses Horde resource, which is generated faster by having a bigger population. When a unit is killed, you gain a refund of Horde back to build others. Power is generated by corrupting ley line nexi and building an Eldritch Pillar over them. Power is used to summon avatars, heroes, and charge up Outer God manifestations. Yithians gain requisition by killing enemy units and controlling territories.

Whoo...I'd go on, but my fingers are tired. How about a little feedback? Good idea, bad idea? Come on, anything!

Alright, since we seem to be THE Spore community, let's pitch in and start coming up with some ideas for features and gameplay additions that would enhance the experience for all of us. Of course this topic will flourish after Steve's podcast, but we can still go ahead and start right? If Steve's invitiation to the interview with Will meant anything, it is that Will is watching this forum, and our ideas and suggestions could matter. Besides, this will let us vent our anticipation for this game in a very constructive manner. Ready? Go!

...I'll post some ideas later, and get some from my other posts, right now, let's see what you guys think.

EDITL Updated for Steve's new info.

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