Well, since our dear leaders have decided that interest rates (that are exceeding low), and "crowding out", and Very Serious Invisible Bond Traders, which all allegedly come from federal deficits, as opposed to say, the unemployment rate that's up around 9%, it's very hard to find a job. So that's led to thinking about ideas on what kind of job I can make. Now, while I'd much prefer a job saving the world, and doing the stuff I spent years going back to school for, that's not worked so far.

Well, what about starting an engineering company? Well, there's issues there with getting a license, which requires working with already licensed engineers for a length of time, plus getting contacts for jobs, and starting something without a reputation or experience. So for the moment, that's not really looking practical.

Computers? Well, I know them, but I'm not a hardware guy, and I haven't kept up at all with programming languages, network stuff, or anything like that. So I could learn it, but I don't have any of the credentials or experience there.

Working for somebody else in retail sucks, especially in a crappy economy, which is where I'm currently stuck.

So, what kind of retail could I do? Well, the most obvious is a nerd shop, probably comics and games. I worked at a game store for five years, I've been friends with people who ran comic shops, I know both those markets pretty well anyway. And it'd give the possibility of creating a place for people to come and meet and have fun and interact, and that'd be good.

Comic/Game shops are hard, though. They're operating in a relatively small market, comics are non-returnable for little guys, and costs four bucks and up each. That aside, there's also a lot of stereotypes about comic and game shops, like they're essentially some dude's basement. And there really are ones like that. Or just look at The Ferrett's column about his FLGS. There is a comic shop chain here in Savannah, but as their webpage shows, they have a bit of hoarder in them too. Plus there's nothing else to that site besides that page. But the pictures, with the T-Shirts hanging from the ceiling and the confusion, that's not so appealing. The hobby shop I worked in had some of that too. We kept it mostly clean, but it was piled with stuff, especially trains, almost to the ceiling on a lot of shelves. So, obviously, I wouldn't want to do something like that. Running somewhere clean, safe, and welcoming to everybody would be the goal. There's no point in turning away customers by having the store look bad.

The problem there, even in a city like Savannah, with SCAD having its art college with a sequential art series, the market for comics isn't always that big. and the comics don't always help with that. And that's a little scary when looking at opening a shop. Comic stores are always shoestring businesses, which is part of the reason so many end up messy. There's lots of other things out there, and there's lots of TPBs and the like that provide more value for the money, but I'm not sure how easy it would be to try and change all of that. Or if I'd make any money doing it, and not just end up owing even more money when it failed.
I would (and, in fact, am) recommend Space Exploration: Serpens Sector to anyone seeking to fill a few random half-hours with seeking out new life, and new civilizations in a randomly generated cluster of stars. It's a lot of fun, and there's interesting little interactions based on your crew and previous actions in all sorts of places, so even if you think you've found all the quests, there's still lots of little things to make repeated playthroughs worthwhile. And not every tactic will work the same each time, so diplomacy isn't just a matter of memorizing responses.
Genius: The Transgression, a fan-made RPG for the New White Wolf universe. Where, yes, everyone is a mad scientist. You, too, can SHOW THEM ALL!!!! (Not in the flasher sense)

I SO want to play this.

Play This

Apr. 19th, 2010 10:30 pm
Digital: A Love Story is far better than it has any right to be. Go play it now.

If you want, you can read things other people have written, but there may be spoilers in those, especially ones with comments. Or mine, below

Here's the nickel summary. It's a game set "five minutes into the future of 1998" in the heady days of BBSes. You've just gotten your new computer, and it includes a modem, and the friendly local computer shop guy stuck a dialer and the number for the local BBS into it. As a bit of advice, I suggest using your online alias when it asks. Trust me. From there, you explore BBSes, learn to hack and phone phreak, fall in love, and save the world, or at least the Internet. The game is short, a couple hours at most, and well worth it. The puzzles are good at making you feel clever, even when they're objectively not too hard. And you can even get in nerd-arguments about which Star Trek captain is best.

By the time we got a computer with a modem, in all of its 14.4 glory, AOL discs were spamming mailboxes everywhere, and the net was just being "discovered". I've only ever visited BBSes a handful of times, over at a friend's house, where we played Legend of the Red Dragon and dinked around. But the feel of things is very right. Very early internet. I can't really pin down what about the game is so affecting, or why it's stuck with me so much. The soundtrack, the low-res welcome screens, everything about it made it feel right. Part of it is nostalgia, I'm sure, even if it's nostalgia for something that wasn't quite the internet I grew up on, but its ancestor. And the story will probably kick in more for anybody who's ever made those emotional contacts that can come from just letters on a screen.

So I don't know if it's the story itself that's stuck with me, or the recreation of a smaller, more secret, newer, less ad-filled days of the Internets. But whichever it was, at the end of the story, I was honestly sad, and it's kept kicking around in the back of my head in the days since I played it. And that's reason enough to recommend it.

4X

Sep. 28th, 2007 01:58 am
I'm totally jonesing for a good empire building game. MOO2 doesn't quite cut it any more, the interface annoyances keep getting to me. Civ3 I've played mostly out. Sci-fi would be good, and space, with ships to upgrade, and cities/planets to build or something. I wish MOO3 hadn't sucked.

Hmm. I wish Nomad ran right (with sound) on my computer. That game was fun. No building in it, but a lot of characterful aliens.
Here are a bunch of fun little flash exploratory games where the object is to find the star hidden in each stage. They're simple, stylish, and fun. There's no instructions, so you have to figure out how each works on your own. Have fun!
I've been playing Ray Hound (link to a review, since the actual site's in Japanese) off and on the past two weeks, and it's fun, and pretty. You're a spaceship, in an arena where turrets spawn. You have no weapons, but you have a field that can grab the enemy lasers and make them follow you until you let go of the button, at which point they fly off. You can also boost, which deflects the lasers while you're boosted. But the biggest thing for me, is it's so pretty a lot of the time. Maybe I'm just mathematically amused, but with all the lasers arcing around in patterns it just can be really nice. And it's fun. Thankfully, every time you hit a multiple of 10 for levels, you can start from that level the next time. I'm stuck at 30 because after that point it starts getting kinda crazy and I haven't made it to 40 yet.
Dicewars is a very random game. But half of the randomness is the kind I expect and am used to, the randomness of using dice to determine combat results. I've played tabletop wargames. That I get, even if it's annoying as hell when my stack of 8 dice manages to roll an 11 and his 2 dice get a 12. That happens.

No, the randomness that's the most frustrating and has lost me the most games is the freaking way it randomly places reinforcements. It's a strategy game, but it doesn't let me control where my troops go. One of the "strategies" I've learned is to want to LOSE battles, so they conquer places close to the back, where it's reinforced dudes into double stacks, even though they're way in the back. I really shouldn't have to do that. Feh.

Bad Design

Oct. 9th, 2006 12:59 am
Okay, yes, I get the idea. You have a game, and the tradeoff between some of the powers for the ball is it can bounce higher, but it's less controllable. But then expecting people to make specific careful jumps that can only be reached by the less accurate ball? That's not challenging. That's just retarded and annoying. Kthx.

Man.

Aug. 7th, 2006 02:41 pm
I really should know better than to have any of the Civilization type games on my computer. 'Cause once I start playing one, I get stubborn and HAVE to win, which takes forever. Then, once I win, I'm fine. At least until I forget and get the urge to start a new game. I need to find a better way to play out my world domination wishes.

A link

Apr. 9th, 2006 11:44 pm
Fly Guy, a short flash game.

It's made of awesome and dreams.
I'm decent at Magic. I'm not great, but I'm pretty good, and I know I can be better. But today I was defeated in part thanks to my Inner Ferrett. Or maybe a combination of Inner Bruce. (Both articles are about Magic, but dudes, you should read them anyway, because while they're ABOUT Magic, Magic's just the medium. Especially for Rizzo's. The rest of this is going to be about Magic, until the last little bit, so you could scroll to that if Magic bores you.)

Today, you see, was the state championship events for the Two-Headed Giant format in Magic, down in Richmond. It's a fun format, and not all that much pressure, really. Two players, build two decks from the cards you get, and then beat the stuffing out of other people. Me and the Zac(k/h)s went, and my friend Nik. We opened up cards that were okay but not really that good to register, and were glad to see the back of them when we were done. Then they came back. After looking and thinking and agonizing and bitching, we managed to assemble a pair of relatively not-bad decks. But not really that good, either. And so the tournament commenced. The first round, we got paired against Bennie Smith and a friend of his. It set things off on a poor note, because I drew all of five non-land cards, and Nik never got one of his lands, we got smashed. We didn't really expect otherwise. So winning the next two rounds was a bonus. Even if I was a bad player for part of the second match and didn't realize I could have been swinging to the face with my big dude, but we still won. And the third match, well, our decks just loved us and gave us exactly what we needed.

It was the fourth match where things came down to it. One of the opposing team was wearing a Pro Tour Hawaii competitor shirt, but I didn't worry about that. Even the pros can be beaten. Even better decks can be beaten. What beat us, really, was us. They had a Ghost Council, which is a pain in the ass. But we had a chance to get rid of it, but neither of us noticed it until after we'd already blown it. Poor communication, and playing too quickly without thinking things through. Nik had a Graven Dominator, which turns all dudes into 1/1 dudes when it comes into play, and the opponent had only the council and a flying dude. I had a Trophy Hunter, who can shoot flying dudes down, and Nik had a Viashino Fangtail, who can shoot any dude for 1. But the Trophy Hunter costs mana to use, and I'd jumped ahead and used all my mana to summon my big Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi. I could have shot the flying dude, then without the creature to sac to save the Council, Nik could have shot the Council, and we would have had a good chance of winning. Instead, we died. To the Ghost Council.

And then since we were all x-2, we dropped and drove home. Which concludes the Magic portion of this post.

The most frustrating part of the loss in round 4 was I saw the move we should have done just after we were done. If I'd spent the time to stop and think things out, instead of just going "Yay! I can play my dude!" like I'd decided to do beforehand, since I knew the dude was coming up, we probably could have won. And if I'd talked with Nik about the play and we'd taken our time, we probably would have seen it. But I wanted to go "YAY! I PLAY MY D00D!" and my mind was running behind the game. It's one of my weaknesses in other areas of life too, I always think of what I should have said or done, anywhere between ten minutes and a day after I've already screwed it up. I need to learn to think faster, and ahead. But not into the future, think ahead enough that my brain's keeping up with Now, and can guess where Now is going.

I'm not quite sure how to do that. Oh, I have ideas for Magic. For example, JamieW used to have a rule, play the game with a D4, and every time you make a mistake, crank it up 1. If you get to 4, count it as a loss, even if you win. Because you screwed up, and in a good game, any mistake can cost you the game. Practice is all there is to it. But most of life isn't as easy to practice as Magic, and if you screw it up, you don't just reshuffle and get ready for Game 2.
if you set up part of your game so it seems like a test of skill, making half the resolution random is extremely frustrating, and doesn't reward the players for doing well.

In other words, it's a pain in the ass and sucks.

Thank you.

Upgrades

Feb. 26th, 2006 06:22 pm
Video games teach you things. This may be surprising to some people, but those people don't read my LJ, I bet.

And one of the things I've learned from legions of strategy games is simple. The upgrades that help the most are the ones that upgrade your basic dudes. Not because your basic dudes work for everything, but because you almost inevitably have the most of them, so making them slightly better has as big an effect as upgrading your badasses to be even MORE badass. And your basic dudes are almost always the most versatile (and if they're not, then the most versatile dudes usually end up being the most common).

Like in X-Com, the best investments are for weapons and armor for your basic infantry guys. Sure, you could make a force of all tanks, but that puts too many eggs in one basket and they're not as flexible as the four guys you're giving up. And trying to make a single squad of super-soldiers can work, but even in the best armor, people can die easily, you're better off having a bunch of decent guys, with the ubers mixed in. The other thing is to make sure your guys are trained and equipped for the right things. Some things are good for frontal assaults on alien battleships, but no good for when the aliens are attacking a city. And if you don't know what you're doing, lots of people are going to die for no good reason.
Man. The AI is so frustrating in it. I mean, I love heroic doomed stands as much as the next guy, but dudes? Declaring war on the country whose mass of modern armor is forming a literal fence between you and a more powerful enemy who'd love to stomp you? Not too bright. And none of them will surrender even after their army's been smushed and legions of tanks are sitting outside their capitol and I send somebody in to ask "Okay, are we done now? Can we stop this?" Of course not.

Man. It's like playing against a bunch of clones of George W. Bush. "Stay the course! Bring it on!" "Uh, sir, that's not working." "Stay the course!"

Criminy. And since the diplomacy system sucks, and all the leaders are immortal and unkillable, the only way to get them to stop trying to fight me is to utterly conquer them. I don't want to play empire! I want to ditz around and build my spaceship and have my people love me. Is that too much to ask?
Civilization 3 uses the word "Democracy" much like the Bush Administration does. It doesn't mean democracy like other people mean democracy, but it sounds pretty. In Civ3, you can never get voted out of office. At least in Civ2 the Senate would overrule you. You're still the Dictator-forever-and-ever. But your people are happier and more productive, as long as you're not at war. Whereas George Bush has Diebold and otherwise, it's just a pretty word he puts in speeches every few sentences, sorta like punctuation. Just like "Freedom", "terror", and "evil" have become.
"Tiamat take it all," Hammurabi swore.

He was in the middle of rolling fields. Forests south, a couple of hills west, and a he could hear a river to the north. Again. He turned to the guys standing around behind him.. "You, with the backpack. Start building. You, with the shovel, there's cows over there."

Again.

It wasn't constantly rebuilding his empire that irritated Hammurabi so much. It wasn't even having to find all new advisers and consorts. Again. No, the most irritating part was it ALWAYS happened right when he finally found the one comfortable spot on his throne.
I'd think having one of your best defended colonies have all of its defenses destroyed before they could fire a shot would be the kind of thing to put somebody in a negotiating mood, especially when the people who just did it (me) don't invade or anything, and are offering peace if you'll quit being such idiots.

Stupid Sakkra.

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