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3281  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Spore! on: March 03, 2006, 12:58:47 AM
This is probably my most anticipated upcoming game.  Unfortunately, even though it's listed for a "Q3 2006" release date, I'll be shocked if it isn't delayed at least 12-months beyond that. frown

-Autistic Angel
3282  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / LOST 03/01 [Episode Spoilers] on: March 03, 2006, 12:54:53 AM
The make up and costumes were left behind intentionally. I'm thinking this means that whatever purpose the others had in pretending they were pirates is finished. Probably because they got Walt. Now the others will just appear as themselves is my guess.

The Others already had Walt when Big Beardo squared off with Jack in the jungle, yet he was still wearing his ragged clothing and had his beard.  It's really only been a few weeks since Claire had been kidnapped, so it's unlikely he could have grown a real beard that size -- I think they're still wearing their "disguises."

-Autistic Angel
3283  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Katrina: Bush and the administration were explicitly warned on: March 02, 2006, 03:23:29 PM
I watched the video this morning and am angry beyond measure. I thought the Katrina problem was just an example of incompetency on all sides. Turns out Bush was blatantly and brazenly lying when he said that no one could have imagined the scope of this.

You took the words right out of my mouth.  That's probably for the best -- I don't think I can discuss this topic in a calm or reasonable way at the moment.

I know this will probably get me shouted down as a "Bush hater," but I really, honestly, urgently *HATE* the fact that an American president can go on national television to cover his own ass by telling bald-faced lies to the American people, and *nothing* is going to happen about it.

-Autistic Angel
3284  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Galactic Civilizations II - Reviews/Impressions on: March 02, 2006, 06:33:47 AM
Quote from: "TheMissingLink"
4-6) Starbases. I am having problem with starbases. I know it takes a constructor ship to go to a resource and create a base there, and they takign more constructor ships will upgrade it, but I kept only getting one basic upgrade every time! I'm guessing I missed a tech somewhere...Plus, I am able to build a starship anywhere, right? The option never came up for me - so yeah, I KNOW I missed a tech!

If you send a Constructor to a galactic resource, it will automatically build a Mining platform and prepare to harvest the resource.  You can also build a "regular" starbase by moving your Constructor to an empty square and clicking on "Construct."  Mining bases add bonuses which benefit your entire civilization, while normal bases only affect units or planets within their vicinity.  You can see the area of effect by clicking once on an existing starbase, but I don't know of any way to preview the AoE for a base you're about to build.

Every Constructor you send to an existing base will let you add one additional module, but your choices will depend on which modules you've researched and what type of base you're upgrading.  For example, researching the orange "Xeno Production" line will allow you to upgrade Mining bases to produce bigger and bigger bonuses for your civilization, while researching red "Starbase Fortification" and "Starbase Projection" technologies will allow you to add powerful defensive and offensive modules to Military starbases.

Military bases can provide a major combat advantage for your ships within range by enhancing their attack and defense rating in different categories.  The Energy Grid module, for example, will give nearby ships an additional point to their armor defense, while the Inverse Tractor Beam module will give passing ships an additional movement point.  Most of these upgrades are found along the red research paths.

Economic bases can be upgraded with production modules which will increase the military, domestic, and research production of every colony within range.  This *only* affects colonies which are within the starbase's area of effect, so these are best suited for areas where you have multiple colonies in close proximity.  Economic bases can also be upgraded with trading modules which will boost the income generated by any mini-freighter which ends its turn within the base's range.  If you've got several trade routes passing through a certain area, put an Economic base there to maximize your profits!  Most of the upgrades for Economic bases are found along the yellow research paths.

Influence bases can be used to increase your cultural output and expand your societal borders.  There are lots of advantages to pushing your influence out as far as possible, including increased tourism revenue and the fact that flooding an alien colony with your culture may eventually cause it to defect and join your civilization peacefully.  Also, certain measures passed by Galactic Senate will earn you tax money for any foreign colonies or starbases which are within your cultural borders.  Most upgrades for Influence starbases can be found along the yellow research path.

Mining bases harvest galactic resources to benefit your entire civilization.  Their mining rate can be increased by adding modules researched along the orange research path.

All starbase module upgrades are cumulative.  If you upgrade a mining base with a +2% module and a +3% module, your total bonus will be 5%.  Place two economic starbases within range of the same colony, and the colony will reap the benefits provided by both.  However, your maximum number of starbases depends on your research along the Logistics line.  I believe you can build more, but each starbase beyond the limit becomes increasingly expensive.

I think that's as much as I know...let me know if there's anything I need to clarify or correct.

Quote from: "TheMissingLink"
I have some questions:

Since I'm submitting games to the metaverse, I am trying to get the highest points possible - are some victories worth more than others? For instance, my last game, I was able to pretty much force two other races into a war and turtle up and get a tech win, but I'm guessing something like an influence win would give more points. Anyone know for sure?

I haven't done anything with the metaverse yet, so I don't know about this one.

Has anyone ever been able to form a damn allience? I made sure to have the tech researched and even traded it a race that I had "warm" relations with; shouldn't the option come up?

I've formed alliances, but I know what you mean about certain options not coming up in diplomatic negotiations.  In one recent game, I desperately wanted to recruit the Iconian Refugees to help me fight the Arceans, but that option never appeared in the "Attack...." request.  I assume the game is automatically removing options which the AI will never, ever agree to, but I don't actually know.

-Autistic Angel
3285  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Galactic Civilizations II - Reviews/Impressions on: March 02, 2006, 04:22:02 AM
I figured out the population cap thing: a planet's maximum population is always equal to the amount of food it's producing.  If your planet produces 23 megatons of food per week, it can support a maximum of 23 billion people.  If it produces 11 megatons of food, it can support 11 billion people.

The interface question I have now is whether it's possible to upgrade or scrap a ship while it's in a planetary orbit.  The only time I can seem to access those commands is when a ship is in a square all by itself -- it can't even be stacked with other identical ships.  Like the food thing, I bet it's just a detail I'm overlooking.

This game is really amazing -- I would have posted more impressions, except I've been too busy playing.  That's almost a cliche, but in this case it's literally true: Galactic Civilizations II has been robbing me of meals, television, and sleep since its release.

A few tips I've learned from experience:

1) Get comfortable adjusting your taxation and spending sliders, including the balance between military, domestic, and research funding.  These are invaluable when you need to acquire a critical technology or finance major planetary renovations in a timely manner.

2) Learn to specialize some of your planets.  Dedicate at least one of your early colonies to manufacturing early in the game to help you crank out colony ships and constructors.  Also, don't forget that you can specify funding priorities on specific planets as well -- a planet loaded with Enhanced Factory complexes needs very little funding on the imperial level to build new spacecraft so long as you prioritize its Military spending.

3) Check the 'Foreign Relations' tab early and often.  The overview screen gives you a great rundown on how your neighbors feel about you, and the report screen will detail why.  It's a lot easier to know which sectors you need to fortify if you know which races are pissed off about your lack of diplomacy skills!

4) Place Economy starbases in parsecs where they're within range of two or more planets and then upgrade them with as many factory modules as you can.  This will give every planet in range a boost to all of its military, domestic, and research endeavors, allowing you to significantly increase the productivity of several colonies at once.

5) Economy starbases can also greatly increase your trade revenue, especially along heavily trafficked trade routes.  Try to place the starbase as far from your freighters' homeworld as possible to maximize the trade bonus you'll receive each turn.

6) Similar to Economy bases, use Military starbases to enhance the defenses of several nearby worlds at once.  Upgrading a Military base with fighter drones, sniper turrets, and missile bays to assist your orbital garrisons makes a huge difference in combat.

7) Researching a faster engine type will automatically upgrade all future Colony Ships and Constructors, but if you have the credits, you can upgrade all existing models just the same as any other ship.  In an emergency, you can also create your own design using multiple engines for a big speed boost.  Don't let that Class 22 planet get stolen away at the last minute!

Cool Don't waste precious space putting sensor arrays on your warships.  Instead, coordinate your fleet movements with your very own S.W.A.C.S. frigates -- add a couple engines to a hull bristling with detection equipment, and you've got a speedy little reconaissance ship to help detect and respond to enemy threats.

9) Remember that your ethical alignment can have a major strategic impact: Good races are less likely to lose planets through revolt, while Evil races automatically extort "protection fees" from alien frighters moving through their territory.  Think about the big picture when making your moral choices.

That's it for now.  I'll post some more if anyone's interested...and if I can break away from the game....

-Autistic Angel
3286  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Galactic Civilizations II - Reviews/Impressions on: February 24, 2006, 01:01:32 AM
I played for a significant amount of time again today, and I haven't suffered any further crashes.  Perhaps reinstalling my video card drivers has fixed the problem.

My early impressions so far are extremely positive.  Much has been made about the game's ability to let you design your own ships, but even so, I was unprepared for just how much customization it allows you.  Every component you add to chassis is physically represented on the ship and can be mounted to any hardpoint you like, and there are even dozens of parts like wings, lights, and antennas which can be added purely for aesthetic purposes.  The entire customization feature is optional, but it's extremely satisfying to piece together your very own design and then see it cruising around the map or engaging in combat.

Combat itself plays out in two different ways.  "Normal" battles are very much like Civilization where ships on the main game map trade attack animations until one or the other is destroyed entirely.  "Full" battles, on the other hand, zoom into show the entire engagment as ships maneuver around each other as they trade weapons fire and launch their defensive measures.  Graphically, these engagments have more in common with X-Wing: Alliance than with Homeworld 2, but the ability to see your ships in action is a welcome addition regardless.

The majority of your time will be spent looking at the main map and the various interface screens anyway, and here the graphics are crisp, clean, and smooth.  Zoom in, and you can see every component placed on every ship in sharp detail.  Zoom far enough out, and every object on the map is replaced with a simple, distinct 2D icon to help you assess the entire strategic situation.  Either way, it's a functional, intuitive, informative and attractive interface.

The same goes for the interface.  From colonial building queues to ship design to imperial policy management, all of the important information is laid out in a logical and accessible fashion that fans of previous "4X" games should be able to pick up almost immediately.  For example, glancing at the planet screen shows you a grid depicting all of the improvements you've built so far, which projects can be upgraded, which area are available for future projects, and so forth.  Simply clicking on any project will give you a detailed description of what it does and how much it costs to maintain.  Alternatively, clicking on the "Summary" button will give you a full rundown on the benefits and costs of every project on the planet.  Considering the sheer amount of information this game is prepared to offer you, it's a real accomplishment that they found such an intuitive way to put it at your fingertips.

The lone exception so far is that I can't seem to find out what a planet's population cap is.  I know where to find the planet's current population, and I know that building agricultural projects will raise the cap, but I can't seem to find out what the cap itself is.

In addition to colonizing planets, GalCiv 2 allows you to build a variety of star bases to help extend your range, project your military power and cultural influence, and generate special bonuses.  Regular bases come in Military, Economy, and Influence flavors and, with the appropriate upgrades, can have a significant strategic impact on the area around them.  While those bases can be placed almost anywhere, mining bases must be constructed over special rare interstellar resources where they'll generate enhancements for your entire empire.

The breadth of options in this game is staggering.  Viable ship designs can range from slow, heavily armored behemoths to nimble hit-and-fade corvettes and anything else you can imagine.  Landing troops on an enemy planet will present you with options for conventional warfare, chemical gas attacks, propoganda bombardments, tidal disruptions, and more.  Space stations and colonies can be customized from cultural centers of interspecies diplomacy to economic powerhouses to military garrisons bristling with weaponry, and they're *all* paths to victory.

Like I said, my first impressions are extremely positive.  smile

-Autistic Angel
3287  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / GameSpot Reviews 'Black' -- 7.4 on: February 23, 2006, 03:24:20 PM
Gameplay: 7
Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Value: 6
Tilt: 7

Overall: 7.4

The Good: Really sharp audiovisual presentation; makes a great first impression; lots of glass to break.

The Bad: Not much reason to play through it more than once; gameplay feels stuck in a rut; disappointing story; often-idiotic artificial intelligence.

Read the full review here.

-Autistic Angel
3288  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Galactic Civilizations II - Reviews/Impressions on: February 23, 2006, 06:21:49 AM
Quote from: "-Lord Ebonstone-"
You wouldn't happen to be running on a dual-core processor, would you?

EDIT: If so, be sure you go to your CPU's website and download/install the latest drivers.

I am running a dual-core processor, and following your advice, I checked ASUS' website to see if they had any updated INF drivers for my motherboard chipset.  It looks like I'm already up-to-date on those.  I also checked Intel's website carefully, but if they have any seperate drivers for their processors, I couldn't find them.

Quote from: "-Lord Ebonstone- also"
Also, you *must* have DirectX 9.0c installed. GalCiv2 does not come with DX9.0c, you'll need to get it from Microsoft.

Finally if none of that works, make a post on's forums. Stardock is very good about responding and investigating issues, if it does turn out to be a problem on their end.

DXDIAG confirms that I'm up to DirectX 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904).  I know there are different versions of "9.0c", but as far as I can tell, this is the most current one.

Just to be on the safe side, I removed my video card drivers and installed the latest ones right from the nVidia website.  I was then able to play for a good long while without any additional crashes, but I'll report back if the problem persists.

Thanks for the advice so far!

-Autistic Angel
3289  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Galactic Civilizations II - Reviews/Impressions on: February 22, 2006, 07:14:28 PM
Has anybody else been suffering crashes?  I've been getting a random "This program has suffered a fatal error and needs to close" which closes the game and leaves me at the Windows desktop with an option to report the error to Microsoft.  Star Wars: Empire At War, by comparison, has been running flawlessly for the last week or so.

Any ideas?

-Autistic Angel
3290  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Galciv II is gold! on: February 20, 2006, 06:28:10 PM
I pre-ordered this game from the website over the weekend and got all the preload stuff installed.  I'm looking forward to playing it tomorrow evening!

-Autistic Angel
3291  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Anyone able to get SW: Empire at War early? on: February 19, 2006, 03:52:51 PM
I was playing the demo the same day I picked up the full game, and there are some significant differences.

1) Interplanetary movement is still very swift along established trade routes, but moving fleets into enemy space or between newly captured planets is about 50% slower.  Now, half the speed of "instantaneous" is still pretty darn fast -- you won't be going to get a drink while you wait for your fleets to reach their destination -- but there is a difference.

2) Unit construction speed is also noticably slower.  TIE Maulers, the Empire's anti-infantry tanks, take a full minute or so to build.  I don't know if that sounds like a "long time," but when you're trying to recoup your losses from a previous battle, constructing a well-balanced force is going to take a strategically significant amount of time.

As far as the overall pacing of the game, whether or not you could respond to an incoming enemy fleet to reposition your own forces, I don't know yet.  I'll share some more thoughts once I've played some more.

-Autistic Angel
3292  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Galciv II is gold! on: February 18, 2006, 09:09:58 PM
The interesting thing to me is that it doesn't seem like interactive turn-based combat would be such a difficult thing to have included.

1) Ship A's engines allow it to move X-number of spaces and/or turn Y-number of degrees.

2) Ship A's weaponry can inflict Z-points of damage, adjusted for range and accuracy

3) Ship B's defenses can negate some of that damage; now Ship B gets its turn to move and attack.

If the rules are already in place to allow the computer to automatically resolve combat in an intelligent fashion -- and even show you an on-the-fly reenactment of the battle -- I would think that allowing players to control their ships manually would have been simple by comparison.

Then again, I'm not a game programmer.  :oops:

Who knows: if the demand is there, maybe the designers will release an addition to the game at some future point!  smile

I need to pre-order this game this weekend.  I think I'm going to buy the CD version through the website so I can play it the moment it goes live, but still get the cool Collector's Box with all the bonus ship components!
3293  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / LOST 02/15 [Episode Spoilers] on: February 17, 2006, 07:09:32 PM
Quote from: "Dafones"
Ehh, in his defence, I put spoiler tags in the title, so he probably thought that info was fair game. But, maybe we should be very specific and have something like episodic spoilers and series spoilers. Best of both worlds.

I think there's an understandable difference between discussing an episode which has already aired versus unaired future episodes.  It's pretty reasonable to assume that people would be talking specifics about episodes they've seen in the past, but we'll often tag those discussions as "Spoilers" out of courtesy.

Talking about upcoming episodes is very different.  If you've taken it upon yourself to learn about what's going to happen in the future, you've also taken it upon yourself to respect the fact that a lot of people probably don't want to hear about it.

With a series like this, if you're talking about something that hasn't happened yet, just play it safe and put it in a spoiler tag.

Quote from: "Daehawk"
I think he was joking about
Spoiler for Hiden:
the 'other' guy being a 6 episode arc.
theres no way he could know that.

When James Marsters was guest staring on Smallville, I knew how many episodes he'd appear in before the season even started.  It's easy to find out how many episodes a character is going to be in -- all you have to do is check the cast list for upcoming episodes.

If you're interested, check sites like and look up the episode guides for your favorite show.  Just don't be surprised if knowing how long a character will be around sort of takes the suspense out of any situation he or she gets into.

I believe that one of the reasons I've continued to enjoy Lost so much is that I never have any idea what's coming.  I had no idea one of the main cast members was going to die earlier this season, no idea Jack was going to come face-to-face with an "Other" earlier this season, no idea the timer was going to run out in this past episode.  When you come into a series like this not knowing what to expect, you're almost always in for a fun surprise.

Finally, I'd like to make it clear that I know Rhinohelix wasn't being malicious and that he probably didn't even think of it as a spoiler.  I'm just frustrated at the situation because I enjoy reading other peoples' thoughts on this show and wish I didn't learn about upcoming episodes in the process.  If the popular consensus turns out to be against me, this is hardly worthy of a one-person crusade.  Cool

-Autistic Angel
3294  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / LOST 02/15 [Episode Spoilers] on: February 17, 2006, 02:57:18 PM
Quote from: "Rhinohelix"
Spoiler for Hiden:
...and we get introduced to the new potential "Other". That guy will be around for a six episode arc.

You know, I'm sittting here trying to think of something humorous or caustic or insightful to say about this, but the simple truth is that the untagged spoilers in threads like these are really starting to piss me off.

Do you honestly not get the fact that posting something like that will permanently warp my expectations for the rest of this season?  Do you understand that knowing the extent of a character's arc in advance sort of takes the suspense out of every episode involved?  Do you think it's *possible* that those of us who avoid even watching commercials for this show find it to be more suspenseful and more fun when we have no idea what to expect, and might get a little irritated at having pointless, thoughtless spoilers shoved in our faces anyway?

This is not a rhetorical question: I really want you to explain why you thought that was a valuable thing to post in this thread.  What were we supposed to get out of it?  If not to spoil a detail about the end of this season, what was the point supposed to be?

-Autistic Angel
3295  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Best Boss? on: February 16, 2006, 05:42:51 AM
After getting caught playing solitaire on your work computer during a break, you have been summarily fired from your previous position.  Many companies are tightening their belts and job hunting can be a daunting proposition, but luckily for you there are a few organizations who always seem to be in need of some additional personnel.  Considering your financial straits, which of the following employers would you most want to take a job with, and why?


Dr. No


Cosmo Spacely

Nwabudike Morgan

Grand Nagus Zek

Dr. Herman Krieger


Ellen Pompeo

3296  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / I can't take it anymore on: February 15, 2006, 05:31:30 PM
"The use of words expressing something other than their literal intention.  Now that *is* irony!"

-Autistic Angel
3297  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Wait a sec, did I read that right? Getting Up got an 8.7.... on: February 15, 2006, 02:57:46 PM
This game has been at the outer fringes of my radar for a long time now, and seeing it score well at GameSpot makes me inclined to pick it up.

To sum up Jeff Gerstmann's review: the game consists of an even balance of hand-to-hand fighting, acrobatic environment exploration, and graffiti painting, and while none of these elements are independently developed deeply enough to support a whole game, combining them together in Getting Up works extremely well.

He also said it would probably take the average gamer about fifteen hours to finish, and that he really loved the voice acting and musical soundtrack in the game.

-Autistic Angel
3298  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Rise of Legends on: February 14, 2006, 07:36:55 PM
You may be thinking of Supreme Commander.

-Autistic Angel
3299  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Man Goes Bankrupt Building Starship Voyager Home on: February 13, 2006, 05:31:25 PM
This reminds me of that Discovery show Monster House where a team of people would take an aging home and completely destroy its resale value by redesigning *every* part of it around some bizarre theme.  For example, one episode had the team creating a "Retro Sci-Fi" house complete with a painfully loud vacuum tube system for sending messages from one room to another, a living room dominated by an enormous flying saucer, and furniture sets constructed entirely out of stainless steel.

Even if you thought that was "pretty cool," would you really buy such a home if a normal, well-kept home down the road was available for a similar price?  No matter how enthusiastic you are about 50's sci-fi, or dinosaurs, or Star Trek, physically transforming your home into a novelty shrine is going to scare away about 90% of your potential buyers.

-Autistic Angel
3300  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Hopes for X-3... fading........ on: February 13, 2006, 01:11:15 AM
I really like Fireball1244's enthusiasm for the Superman franchise: he clearly knows the subject inside and out, and makes a specific and well-reasoned case for what worked or didn't work about the films.  Although I won't be buying the boxed set, I'll be looking forward to reading his critique of the "Donner Cut" of Superman II when it's released.

It's similar to Starshifter's enthusiasm for Emergency! -- I'm not familiar with the show myself, but knowing how much he loves it gives all of his posts a little more personality.

-Autistic Angel
3301  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Hopes for X-3... fading........ on: February 12, 2006, 04:41:30 AM
I thought Morlocs were mutants who were driven underground because their aberrations were so apparent that they couldn't pass for humans.

Wait, maybe that was Futurama....

-Autistic Angel
3302  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Most Promising Theoretical Entertainment? on: February 11, 2006, 12:58:35 AM
I should probably confess that "Zero-G Hai-Alai" is probably not the correct name for the unnamed high school sport featured in Batman Beyond, but rather the most appropriate description I can think of.  If anyone here happens to be Paul Dini or Bruce Timm, I'm prepared to be corrected.

Personally, I think Interstellar Pig could be turned into a rather promising combination of Star Control II and Clue, with a dash of Fallout-style character creation and inventory management.

-Autistic Angel
3303  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Most Promising Theoretical Entertainment? on: February 10, 2006, 09:47:49 PM
After years of toiling away in thankless tech support, quality assurance, and low-level programming jobs, you've finally been presented with an opportunity to design your own game.  Unfortunately it looks like your financial backers have learned the lessons taught by the John Romeros and Derek Smarts of the world: they're willing to fund your dream project, but only after you demonstrate your potential and grace under pressure by releasing a profitable game within the next twelve months.

Without the time to execute a completely original concept, which of the following things would you most want to try and faithfully adapt into your very first videogame and why?

Pereces Squares


Zero-G Hai-Alai


Three Dimensional Chess

Interstellar Pig



Ellen Pompeo
3304  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Are you F****** kidding me on: February 10, 2006, 04:24:59 AM
Playing Ninja Gaiden: Black on the original X-Box at the 'Normal' difficulty level, I can start the game and play all the way through the end of Chapter Nine without saving and without dying.  I've done it more than once.

Ninja Gaiden: Black is unplayable on the X-Box 360.  If the frequent and inconsistent slowdown in the first boss area doesn't kill me, the second boss area *always* requires multiple tries.  It's sluggish, the controls are unresponsive, and it just isn't fun.  I recently bought a brand-new X-Box for the specific purpose of ensuring that I'll be able to play this game for many years to come because the 360 just doesn't cut it.

-Autistic Angel
3305  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Hurray! G4 to get even worse!!!! on: February 09, 2006, 04:48:27 PM
Quote from: "Daehawk"
The only thing watchable on that channel is X-Play and then I only tune in for Morgan's legs and boobs.

God, really?

Morgan Webb is one cosmetic procedure away from becoming a walking, talking infringment on the Real Doll patent.  Jocelyn Wildenstein has more of her original parts.

-Autistic Angel
3306  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Lost 2/8 on: February 09, 2006, 04:27:00 PM
Quote from: "Ralph-Wiggum"
Was there a point to the Sawyer backstory? Didn't we already know that he was a con artist?

I agree with Dafones: a better question might have been, "Didn't we already know that Sawyer was a big jerk?"  The answer is yes, but we were also ready to forget all about that because he's also charismatic, funny, and been through some really terrible times lately.

Sawyer has lived his entire life under the belief that he deserves to be mistrusted and hated, so does things to make sure that he is.  It goes back a lot farther than the guilt he feels over the things he's done: Sawyer hates his father for being so gullible, stupid, and weak, getting conned and commiting suicide, so he's devoted his life to becoming a predator himself.  He believes himself to be irredeemably corrupt, despite the fact that his conscience drives him to push everyone else away so that he can't take advantage of them.

A sociopathic con artist has it easy.  Sawyer does not.

Quote from: "ATB"
However, the background story on Sawyer was good if a bit shallow. I'd like to see a bit more dynamics come through in his back story...he's too charismatic and sinister to be that one dimensional.

I'm prepared to agree to disagree about this, but "one dimensional" is just about the very last adjective I would have used to describe Sawyer.

-Autistic Angel
3307  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Who Has The Easiest Time With 'Guitar Hero?' on: February 06, 2006, 02:27:50 PM
I'm a little surprised that Real Guitar Players has gotten as many votes as it has.  I don't know anything about playing an actual guitar myself, but I imagine it's about as similar to playing Guitar Hero as professional dancing is to playing Dance Dance Revolution.

Quote from: "Graham"
It can't be a Roomba. My girlfriend has one of those and it doesn't work very well at all.

I don't think it would be fair to the people who already voted if I added a new option at this point, but what if one of the options had been:

a robot from the future

-Autistic Angel
3308  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Who Has The Easiest Time With 'Guitar Hero?' on: February 05, 2006, 06:53:06 PM
In your opinion, which of the following types of people would have the easiest time mastering the more difficult levels of Guitar Hero and why?

someone who actually knows how to play a guitar

someone experienced at other rhythm games

someone who excels at videogames, but has never played a rhythm game

someone who doesn't know anything at all about videogames

someone from the future

a robot

Ellen Pompeo

3309  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Farcry Instincts, anyone? on: February 05, 2006, 05:24:46 PM
One of the defining moments for me in FarCry: Instincts was the first time I used my feral powers to leap out of the brush, perform a flying claw attack in mid-air to take down the guard facing me, and slaughter his two buddies before either of them could even get a shot off.

I did have some problems in the game's final level because I couldn't figure out where to go and kept getting my character caught on downed trees, but with that small exception, FarCry: Instincts was a great game.

-Autistic Angel
3310  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Jeez! Look at these upcoming PC games! on: February 03, 2006, 03:53:27 AM
Unfortunately, I really doubt Spore will make it to shelves this year.  I'm looking forward to that one which means we probably won't see it until 2008.

-Autistic Angel
3311  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Smallville 1-26-2006 (Spoilers) on: January 28, 2006, 12:01:54 AM
The biggest problem in Season 3 was Lana's amnesiac boyfriend Adam: a character so cliched that he might as well have been named Poochie The Rockin' Dog.

The biggest problem in Season 4 was that the decision to do the exact opposite of what every single fan wanted, including much, much *more* of Lana Lang despite the fact that Kristin Kreuk can't even act convincingly in a Noxema commercial.  Basing a season-long "B Story" around Lana is a bad decision to start with, but making her into some reincarnation of a medieval witch was *way* over the edge.

Season 5 is much better by comparison...but only by comparison.  The biggest problem so far is how the writers will spend two or three episodes setting up some interesting new situation, and then apparently panic and hit the Reset Button to achieve some magical deus ex machina resolution in the course of single episode.  For example

Spoiler for Hiden:
Season 5 starts with Clark permanently losing his powers.  Finally, for once, he's going to find out that being super strong, super fast, and nie-invulerable is really nothing to whine about...but only for one episode because he almost immediately gets his powers back.  There's a price, of course, and Clark spends all season obsessing about it until he conveniently forgets all about it in last night's episode and WHAM! it suddenly gets collected.

-Autistic Angel
3312  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / LOST - 01/18/06 - FIRST HOLY CRAP of 2006! on: January 27, 2006, 10:35:12 PM
The message of this most recent episode seemed to be: The only thing worse than being a huge loser with a drug problem is to kick the habit, clean yourself up, devote yourself to the well being of a pretty girl, and finally realize that now you're just a huge loser *without* a drug problem.

It's an episode with no redemptive message whatsoever, and I loved it.

From the very first episode, it's been perfectly clear that almost nobody on or off the island liked Charlie, and absolutely nobody respected him.  Even a newcomer like Mr. Eko recognizes right away that Charlie is someone who can be bullied around without any objections.  This was the episode where all of that came to a head and Charlie was finally forced to face the fact that he's a selfish, dishonest, obnoxious twit who is, at best, tolerable.

I like the fact that Lost embraces characters who are flawed or even dislikeable, and this episode was a great payoff in that regard.

-Autistic Angel
3313  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Do you have a video game character crush? on: January 23, 2006, 02:53:16 PM
I always liked Farrah from Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.  I'd be running along, she'd suddenly exclaim, "Look, a crack!" and as I watched her  wriggle her way into some filthy hole in the wall I'd think, "Man, she *really* doesn't want to hang out with my character!"

Plus, I thought it was funny whenever she'd "accidentally" hit my character with one of her arrows. biggrin

-Autistic Angel
3314  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / FINALLY GET A NEW PC!!!!!!!!!! (sorry for the caps!!!!!!!!!) on: January 21, 2006, 04:58:07 AM
Speaking as someone who thinks FarCry is one of the best shooters ever released, I'd have to warn you that I thought the demo was terrible.  So terrible, in fact, that the only reason I ever bothered with the full version was that a friend of mine picked it up and I decided to give it a second shot.

If you enjoy the FarCry demo at all, you'll *love* the full game.  If you don't like the demo at all, I'd still definitely recommend borrowing the full version from a friend.

-Autistic Angel
3315  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / [RP] Unchecked Presidential Power on: January 20, 2006, 05:10:15 AM
Do you think, for a moment, that the very administration [Gore] was a part of was not guilty of abuses of power, that, in fact, every administration for the last 40 years has been secretly keeping tabs on it's populace in the same manner? Why do you think Bush was so nonchalant about it? It's been a given for decades, the only thing his administration is truly guilty of is the arrogance of admitting it.

I don't understand this sort of thinking.  We can't get angry about someone's flagrant violations of the law because other people have "probably" done the same thing in the past?

Republican Connecticut Governor John Roland was found guilty of accepting tens of thousands of dollars worth of bribes to steer state contracts to specific contracting companies.  Was he the first politician to abuse his power?  Of course fact, we now know that Democratic State Senator Ernie Newton was guilty of extremely similar behavior during the same time.  Should we excuse both of them because "all politicians are corrupt," or should we hold them each accountable for their violation of the public trust?

George Bush spied on American citizens without a warrant.  There really doesn't seem to be much question that it was illegal -- at this point, the debate is pretty much exclusively whether or not it *should* be illegal.  Regardless of how that turns out, it seems to me that someone who breaks the law should be punished.  The idea that "somebody else" "might" have gotten away with "something similar" "at some point" in the past really doesn't excuse the fact that it's a crime here and now.

-Autistic Angel
3316  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Star Wars - Empire at War on: January 19, 2006, 04:35:17 PM
I'm happy to hear that the build times were sped up for the demo, and I hope the travel times between planets are also exaggerated.  Played at the pace of the demo, Empire At War seems like it would be won by whoever could click their build and move orders the fastest.

This is also one of the rare RTS games where I'm frequently using the ability to give orders while the game is paused.  The space battle in the asteroid field is especially hectic as I try to keep my X-Wing squadrons chasing down incoming wings of TIE Bombers while my Y-Wings target enemy subsystems.

Overall, my feelings on the demo are mixed, but so long as the reviews skew towards the positive, I'm leaning towards picking it up.  The Galactic Conquest mode seems like it could be a refreshing change of pace from most strategy games.  Let's just hope the AI has a variety of difficulty levels so players can find one that'll give them a good challenge.

I am curious about the overall usefullness of Rebel smugglers.  If the Empire can always see when credits are being siphoned from one of their planets, wouldn't the imperial player be able to neutralize enemy smugglers almost instantly?  Or would those "credit lost" icons sort of be lost in the shuffle of trying to manage a large scale war effort?

-Autistic Angel
3317  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / [RP] Unchecked Presidential Power on: January 18, 2006, 03:36:06 PM
I think I agree with just about everything th'FOOL has said, except for his final conclusion.

Yes, both American political parties are corrupt.  They both accept vast sums of money from special interest groups working to artificially limit the scope of political debate, ensuring that *real* environmental, tax, business, and medical reforms are never passed.  They both use hyperbole and wedge issues to rile people up, and they both work to discredit third parties so they can maintain their own power.

Still, I do not vote for third party candidates.  Not yet.  When I look at how this country has been changed over the last six years my first concern is to do anything I can to stop further damage.  Voting Democrat is currently the best way to do that.  I'm a pragmatist: given the choice between voting for the perfect candidate or the deeply imperfect candidate with a chance of winning and putting the brakes on at least some of these insane initiatives, I choose the latter.

Then, if we can get this situation just the least bit stabilized, putting a hold on the tax cuts, the program cuts, the radical spending programs, the domestic spying, etc, etc, etc, then I can focus on supporting a candidate with the integrity to begin honestly addressing the horrible situation this country has fallen into.

-Autistic Angel
3318  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / DVD Tuesday - 01/17/06 on: January 17, 2006, 10:30:29 PM
Well, Dollman had his chance against the Demonic Toys and he blew it.  Thank God Puppetmaster knows how to get the job done right the first time!

-Autistic Angel
3319  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / [RP] Unchecked Presidential Power on: January 17, 2006, 07:28:56 PM
Quote from: "mikeg"
100% political.

I'm not sure what that means.  Al Gore isn't allowed to be angry about conduct which is expressly forbidden under the Bill of Rights?  Am I allowed to be angry about the Bush administration wasting intelligence resources spying on pacifist groups like the Quakers, or is that also "100% political?"

Quote from: "whiteboyskim"
It's coming from Algore, of course it's pure bullshit with a few half-facts scattered throughout. It's the same as whenever Ann Coulter or Sean Hannity speak up on the right. Those of us in that party wince and say, "Please STFU."

Perhaps you could do me a favor and identify which parts of the speech are "pure bullshit" and which parts are "half-facts."  Your blanket statement is so broad and so vague, I really can't tell which is supposed to be which.

For example, Gore says, "During the period when this eavesdropping was still secret, the President went out of his way to reassure the American people on more than one occasion that, of course, judicial permission is required for any government spying on American citizens and that, of course, these constitutional safeguards were still in place."

Is that "pure bullshit," a "half-fact," or a clearly established fact with supporting evidence which can even be found at where George W. Bush says, "Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."

Quote from: "drifter"
Come on Al Gore the inventor of the internet really; whether it is a democrat or republican giving a speech you think they are going to be fair to the other party?

Yes, in any thread referencing Al Gore, at least one person has to pretend that he claimed to "invent the internet," and at least one other person has to take a few minutes to remind everyone that that allegation has been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked.

Quote from: "warning"
I stopped reading when I got to this:
A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government.

That made me laugh. Of course perjury is okay....

This would probably be a stronger argument if Bill Clinton's purjury had been "okay."  In reality, of course, he was impeached for the crime.

By comparison, George W. Bush has authorized secret domestic spying with zero oversight over the course of several years in explicit violation of the Fourth Amendment.  Perhaps I'm just "100% political," but I can't help but feel like that's a pretty big deal, too.

Quote from: "Vikki"
On CNN's "Larry King Live," Gonzales said Gore's comments were inconsistent with Clinton administration policy.

"It's my understanding that during the Clinton administration there was activity regarding physical searches without warrants," Gonzales said. "I can also say it's my understanding that the deputy attorney general testified before Congress that the president does have the inherent authority under the Constitution to engage in physical searches without a warrant. And so, those would certainly seem to be inconsistent with what the former vice president was saying today."

All right, let's take a look at the exact language of the order President Clinton signed:

Section 1. Pursuant to section 302(a)(1) [50 U.S.C. 1822(a)] of the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance] Act, the Attorney General is authorized to approve physical searches, without a court order, to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year, if the Attorney General makes the certifications required by that section.

Hmmm, that does look like the same sort of thing...except for that part about "section 302(a)(1)" of the FISAct.  Let's see what those requirements are all about:

"- the "physical search is solely directed at premises, information, material, or property used exclusively by, or under the open and exclusive control of, a foreign power or powers."

"- and there is "no substantial likelihood that the physical search will involve the premises, information, material, or property of a United States person."

So, in short, Bill Clinton signed an order allowing the AG to condone warrantless physical searches of locations *not* belonging to U.S. citizens and of people who are *not* U.S. citizens themselves.

I guess that's really not the same thing at all.

-Autistic Angel
3320  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Stiffler, and other teachers, is this a good idea? on: January 15, 2006, 01:44:53 PM
My brother (who was interested in becoming a teacher) changed his career choice simply because he didn't want to deal with that kind of crap in the classroom.

So did I.  In fact, I worked with six different veteran teachers in various urban and rural settings throughout my student teaching experiences, and all but two of them were taking steps to leave the profession within the next couple years.

"Teaching" under the No Child Left Behind Act is little more than repetitive drilling to reinforce rote memorization.  Creative long-term collaborative projects which tie together elements of English, History, Art, Music, and Science are strongly discouraged because they're so inefficient -- regardless of the last 25 years of educational research which clearly demonstrate such projects are incredibly beneficial to a student's *real* understanding of the subjects, intellectual stimulation leaves them poorly equipped to sit quietly in a chair filling in answers on bubble sheets for three hours at a stretch.

The teachers I knew were waking up around 5:00 or 5:30am to be ready for their 7:00am classes, teaching until 2:00 or 2:30pm, and then performing administrative tasks (grading papers and projects, writing up formal lesson plans, planning interclassroom projects with other teachers in their grade, redesigning the classroom to reflect the current project topics, planning field trips, etc.) until 7:00 or 8:00pm.  Additionally, they were responsible for their own continuing education projects, taking classes of their own on certain days of the week as a requirement of renewing their teaching licenses.  On his ABC Special Report this past Friday, John Stossel referred to this as "a six-hour work day" and gleefully reminded everyone that teachers "only work nine months out of the year."

Every single one of the teachers I've ever met was well aware of the fact that they could make significantly more money putting the same amount of effort into a different profession, but they stuck with it because they loved educating kids.  NCLB is taking that away from them, so there's really no wonder that people are fleeing the profession.

-Autistic Angel
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