November 26, 2009

Dragon Age: Origins . . . not all that original

Filed under: Gaming, Gaming, Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 12:29

Darkwatermuse tries Dragon Age: Origins, and is not overwhelmed with joy and mirth:

Dragon Age: Origins enjoyment mileage will depend greatly on each gamer’s experience and familiarity with the RPG genre as well as any recent history of head injuries known to have affected their memory.

If I wasn’t familiar with the long history of RPG D&D styled games I might find myself in agreement with the more cynical rankings the game has received. Scores of 4/5 and 8.5/10 are justified only if you’ve never actually installed or played any of the game’s predecessors or have been paid handsomely through a complex financing network connected to the game’s publisher’s marketing department.

[. . .]

DWM’s biggest annoyance? Being confined to these cartoon landscapes which are clearly represented as hexes somewhere in the bowels of the game’s engine but which are not rendered in the visual 3d world we’re forced to navigate through during endless hours of click-double-clicking either the left — no, try the right one this time — button.

Christ on a dungeon ration biscuit! Whose idea was it to leave the last 15% of the game’s coding to the dyslexic?

DWM asks the question few before dared to ask, is it necessary for me to have to endure the chronic sense of shame evoked when I click on part of the screen I can only then discover can’t actually be moved to? More fool me. Again. Excuse me for having failed to recognize that empty terrain is actually harder than a young adolescent dragon’s pecker during the bumpy bus ride to school.

There’s much more . . . I had to force myself not to quote the entire review. Very reminiscent of a Yahtzee game review, with less yellow-background animation (who, interestingly enough, has also reviewed DA:O recently).

QotD: How AGW became the majority view

Filed under: Environment, Media, Quotations, Science — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:10

What the CRU’s hacked emails convincingly demonstrate is that climate scientists in the AGW camp have corrupted the peer-review process. In true Gramscian style they marched on the institutions — capturing the magazines (Science, Scientific American, Nature, etc), the seats of learning (Climate Research Institute; Hadley Centre), the NGO’s (Greenpeace, WWF, etc), the political bases (especially the EU), the newspapers (pretty much the whole of the MSM I’m ashamed, as a print journalist, to say) — and made sure that the only point of view deemed academically and intellectually acceptable was their one.

Neutral observers in this war sometimes ask how it can be that the vast majority of the world’s scientists seem to be in favour of AGW theory. “Peer-review” is why. Only a handful of scientists — 53 to be precise, not the much-touted 2,500 — were actually responsible for the doom-laden global-warming sections of the IPCC’s reports. They were all part of this cosy, self-selecting, peer-review cabal — and many of them, of course, are implicated in the Climategate emails.

Now peer-review is dead, so should be the IPCC, and Al Gore’s future as a carbon-trading billionaire. Will it happen? I shouldn’t hold your breath.

James Delingpole, “Climategate: what Gore’s useful idiot Ed Begley Jr doesn’t get about the ‘peer review’ process”, Telegraph.co.uk, 2009-11-26

Saxon treasure trove valued at more than $6M

Filed under: Britain, History — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 08:49

The recently discovered Saxon treasure (first mentioned here) has been valued at £3.285m by the British Museum and the money will be split between the owner of the land and the man who discovered it:

The value of the 7th century hoard, the largest Anglo-Saxon gold hoard found, was set by a committee of experts.

The haul comprises 1,600 items including sword pommels, helmet parts and processional crosses.

It was discovered by 55-year-old Mr Herbert, of Burntwood, in Staffordshire, in July.

He found it on land owned by Mr Johnson, who said he had not decided how to spend the money yet.

The initial reports seemed to indicate that neither man would be allowed to benefit from the find, so it’s very good to see that this is not the case.

WoW considered harmful, sued for damages

Filed under: Gaming, Gaming, Law — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:41

It must be a slow news week: a gamer in California claims that World of Warcraft is harmful, seeks damages in a law suit:

Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore subpoenaed in World of Warcraft lawsuit
What do you do when a videogame makes you miserable? You take its makers to court and get the Depeche Mode guitarist to testify on the nature of melancholy, of course

In one of this year’s loonier lawsuits, Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore has been subpoenaed by an American videogamer and asked to testify on the subject of “alienation”. Erik Estavillo is suing the makers of World of Warcraft, alleging that the game has alienated him from the real, orc-less world.

According to the San Jose, California resident, World of Warcraft is a “harmful virtual environment” and its developers follow “sneaky and deceitful practices”. Despite this, Estavillo admits he “relies on videogames heavily for the little ongoing happiness he can achieve in this life”. He just wants World of Warcraft to cost less money. And to stop making him so sad.

Which brings us to Depeche Mode, those purveyors of angst and sorrow. Estavillo’s court filings put forward multi-instrumentalist songwriter Martin Gore as an expert witness on melancholy. Gore should be called to Santa Clara county superior court, Estavillio suggests, “since he himself has been known to be sad, lonely, and alienated, as can be seen in the songs he writes”.

It’s not a protective force field . . .

Filed under: Military, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:35

. . . but if it provides a useful degree of protection against splinters and shell fragments, it’s certainly worth testing in a combat zone:

The U.S. Army has developed shell proof wallpaper. The fabric is applied, like wallpaper, on the inside of troop work and living quarters, in areas where the enemy fires rockets and mortar shells into the area. Thus when fast moving fragments or debris hit the structure, the new material, called X-Flex, stretches and halts, or slows down, the fast moving object. This makes it much less likely that anyone inside the structure will be killed.

Over the last five years, the U.S. Army has gone to great lengths to protect troops in camps. Tight perimeter security has kept suicide bombers, and terrorists in general, out of the camps. But there are still rocket and mortar attacks. These usually cause few casualties, but those that do occur are the result of shell fragments or debris coming through the walls.

If it works as well in real life application as it apparently has done in controlled testing, it’ll be a welcome addition to the defenses.

Red flag checklist

Filed under: Environment, Politics, Science — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:28

The recent Climate Change/AGW revelations (which the Climate Czar is still assuring people won’t actually change anything) are of great interest to climate skeptics, but the systematic perversion of the normal scientific methods shows how easy it has been for a particular viewpoint to be lauded as the consensus. Here is a list of suspicious behaviour which could be red flags for scientists trying to circumvent normal checks and balances:

(1) Consistent use of ad hominem attacks toward those challenging their positions.

(2) Refusal to make data public. This has been going on in this area for some time.

(3) Refusal to engage in discussions of the actual science, on the
assumption that it is too complicated for others to understand.

(4) Challenging the credentials of those challenging the consensus position.

(5) Refusal to make computer code being used to analyze the data public. This has been particularly egregious here, and clear statements of the mathematics and statistics being employed would have allowed the conclusions to be challenged at a much earlier stage.

Damning with not-so-faint damns

Filed under: Media, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:11

A clearly impartial and unbiased advance review of James Cameron’s Avatar, due for release in December:

Budgeted at a reported $237m (£143m), Avatar is Cameron’s first dramatic feature since the record-breaking Titanic, back in 1997. The film is a science-fiction fantasy set on a verdant planet called Pandora and following the adventures of a US Marine played by Sam Worthington. Cameron shot the film on his own patented “fusion digital 3D camera system” and experts argue that the results take 3D techniques to a whole new level. [. . .]

The reviewer, however, begs to differ, describing the film as “alienating” and “weird”. Moreover, he/she argues that its pioneering visual technology is liable to induce nausea in the viewer. “The problem is with cutting in between 3D focus points and perspective,” the mystery critic writes. “The mind cannot adjust to it without a buffer — thus, Avatar is literally vomit inducing.”

Even the review’s praise comes with a sting in the tail. “There are some beautiful moments [in the film],” it concedes. “But overall it’s a horrible piece of shit.”

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