Quotulatiousness

July 25, 2014

A glimpse of Firefly Online

Filed under: Gaming, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 12:59

Published on 24 Jul 2014

Firefly Online (FFO) is an online strategic roleplaying game set in the universe of Joss Whedon’s cult classic TV show – Firefly.

Players take on the role of a ship captain as they hire a crew and lead missions, while trading with and competing against millions of other players like themselves. Much like the crew of Serenity, the Firefly-class transport ship featured in the original show, players must do whatever it takes to survive in the Verse: find a crew, find a job and keep flying.

Currently in development for PC, Mac, iOS and Android. For more info or to register go to www.keepflying.com.

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:29

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. The next chapter of the Living Story will be The Dragon’s Reach, Part 1 and the teaser video for it set off mass speculation among the lore fans. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

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July 20, 2014

Diplomacy – “the game that ruins friendships”

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:19

David Hill learns a very hard lesson about trusting English promises:

Diplomacy board

It was the summer of 1909. I was on the south coast of Spain. I remember it well because the season was almost over. Peace was within reach, I felt. There had been a vote to end the war, and the English had told me to support it. But the vote needed to be unanimous to pass, and it failed. The Russian, the Italian, they thought the English voted against it and that I had been lied to. Why should I believe them? The English and I had worked together against all of them for years now. Of course they’d want to sow distrust between us. Now time was ticking. I desperately wanted peace. I wasn’t sure my country would survive another couple of years, with or without England’s help. There wouldn’t be another vote until after the fall.

“Will you support my army in Spain this fall?” I asked.

“Nah. That ain’t happenin’,” the Englishman replied. A wave of dread came over me. He intended to betray me.

“How could you do this to me? After everything I’ve done for you.”

“I guess I’m just a hard muthafucka like that.”

And with that he walked away, leaving me standing in the hallway, mouth agape. He rejoined the other players at the board, who all stared at me, fury in their eyes. We told you so.

I used to spend a lot of time playing Diplomacy, but as I didn’t have enough real-life friends to want to lose a lot of them over a boardgame, I played postal Diplomacy (I even co-published a ‘zine for a while).

If you’ve ever heard of Diplomacy, chances are you know it as “the game that ruins friendships.” It’s also likely you’ve never finished an entire game. That’s because Diplomacy requires seven players and seven or eight hours to complete. Games played by postal mail, the way most played for the first 30 years of its existence, could take longer than a year to finish. Despite this, Diplomacy is one of the most popular strategic board games in history. Since its invention in 1954 by Harvard grad Allan B. Calhamer, Diplomacy has sold over 300,000 copies and was inducted into Games Magazine’s hall of fame alongside Monopoly, Clue, and Scrabble.

The game is incredibly simple. The game board is a map of 1914 Europe divided into 19 sea regions and 56 land regions, 34 of which contain what are known as “supply centers.” Each player plays as a major power (Austria-Hungary, Turkey, Italy, England, France, Russia, Germany) with three pieces on the board (four for Russia) known as “home supply centers.” Each piece can move one space at a time, and each piece has equal strength. When two pieces try to move to the same space, neither moves. If two pieces move to the same space but one of those pieces has “support” from a third piece, the piece with support will win the standoff and take the space. The goal is to control 18 supply centers, which rarely happens. What’s more common is for two or more players to agree to end the game in a draw. Aside from a few other special situations, that’s pretty much it for rules.

There are two things that make Diplomacy so unique and challenging. The first is that, unlike in most board games, players don’t take turns moving. Everyone writes down their moves and puts them in a box. The moves are then read aloud, every piece on the board moving simultaneously. The second is that prior to each move the players are given time to negotiate with each other, as a group or privately. The result is something like a cross between Risk, poker, and Survivor — with no dice or cards or cameras. There’s no element of luck. The only variable factor in the game is each player’s ability to convince others to do what they want. The core game mechanic, then, is negotiation. This is both what draws and repels people to Diplomacy in equal force; because when it comes to those negotiations, anything goes. And anything usually does.

July 18, 2014

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:37

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. The latest chapter of the Living Story is called Entanglement and it introduces a new zone along with the story. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

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July 11, 2014

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:39

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. The next chapter of the Living Story will be released on Tuesday: Entanglement. Sharpen your machete to get ready for that… In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

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July 4, 2014

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 13:32

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. Living Story Season Two began on Canada Day this week … so my Canadian friends were heavily represented in game right as the new content launched. So far, we’ve only seen a small section of the new region, but it’s been a lot of fun to explore. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

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Civilization: Beyond Earth release date announced

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:03

ZAM.com has the details:

Civilization Beyond Earth

Civilization: Beyond Earth is set to launch worldwide this autumn on October 24, 2014. Pre-ordering via participating retailers will score you a bonus Exoplanets Map Pack on launch day. The map pack includes six custom maps inspired by real exoplanets:

  • Kepler 186f: This lush forest planet is one of the oldest known Earth-like planets
  • Rigil Khantoris Bb: Orbiting the closest star to our solar system, the historical records of this arid continental planet’s settlement are well-preserved
  • Tau Ceti d: This planet of seas and archipelagos features a booming biodiversity and a wealth of resources
  • Mu Arae f: Tidally locked in orbit around a weak star, the southern hemisphere of this planet is a blistering desert where the sun never sets, while the northern hemisphere is perpetually in frozen darkness
  • 82 Eridani e: An alien world of scarce water and wracked by tectonic forces
  • Eta Vulpeculae b: A mysterious new discovery with unknown terrain

June 30, 2014

Guild Wars 2 – The Living Soundtrack

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:01

Published on 30 Jun 2014

Guild Wars 2 composer Maclaine Diemer gives a sneak peak of the soundtrack for Season Two, which was performed and recorded by a live orchestra in Germany.

To know more about the Living World of Guild Wars 2, make sure to regularly check the Releases page of the website: https://www.guildwars2.com/en/the-game/releases/

June 27, 2014

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 12:06

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. The Festival of the Four Winds is finally drawing to a close, and the Living Story Season Two debuts on July 1st. We’ve been getting a few cryptic hints about what’s ahead, in the form of a teaser video and some audio “omens and portents”. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

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June 21, 2014

Shock, horror! An “offensive game” is actually offensive!

Filed under: Gaming, Humour, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 06:43

Charles C.W. Cooke on an outbreak of offensensitivity on the part of players of Cards Against Humanity, a game that only exists to be politically incorrect and offensive:

“Offended” has become such a fluid and subjective term these days that I can’t possibly keep up — and, frankly, I don’t especially care to. Either way, that the outrage brigade would go after this game is nothing short of extraordinary. Whatever case there is for polite society, universities, or television networks attempting to keep their language within the malleable and brittle bounds that our arbiters of taste have contrived this week to establish, there is no reason whatsoever for it to be applied to a party lark. Make no mistake: The entire purpose — quite literally the only point — of Cards Against Humanity is to be shocking and objectionable. Pretty much every single card in the pack is shocking and objectionable. The game is “offensive”? Gosh, what gave it away? Was it, perhaps, the words Cards Against Humanity emblazoned on the box? Or, perhaps, the description, “A party game for horrible people”? Maybe it was that the stated aim is to be as “despicable” as possible? A card “wasn’t okay”? Well, obviously.

Perhaps I just read too much of the Left’s output, but I’m starting to wonder whether “trans” people are engaged in some sort of concerted effort to be the most vocally boring and self-indulgent members of the perpetually aggrieved. Among the other topics at which Cards Against Humanity routinely pokes fun are incest, abortion, genocide, race, homosexuality, death, the disabled, those with crippling diseases, and the religious. A typical combination: “What will always get you laid? Date rape.” Another: “In 1,000 years, when paper money is but a distant memory, black people will be our currency.” Within the pack there are ready made Holocaust jokes, jokes about the massacre of American Indians, jokes about the molestation of altar boys, jokes that make light of black people and of slavery, jokes about fatal drug addiction, and an endless supply of gross, semi-pornographic nonsense. Oh, and more Holocaust jokes. (Oh, and even more Holocaust jokes.) Nick Summers, of Bloomberg Businessweek, described the offering as being built around “punch lines that include Auschwitz, slavery, ‘Stephen Hawking talking dirty,’ white privilege, ethnic cleansing, terrorists, the Trail of Tears, assless chaps, nuclear bombs, ‘a mime having a stroke,’ and more depravity.” You get the picture.

Is this funny? That depends on your taste. I think it is, yes, and I enjoy playing the game. Not only do I have a high tolerance for these things, but, as a rule, I think that humor is by far and away the most effective way of conquering tragedy. Clearly, the guy who took such offense at the one card enjoyed the game too. He bought into the premise. He was happy enough to play. He sat there through the rest of the rounds, which inevitably contained other “offensive jokes,” likely laughing at hideous things. He just didn’t like it when the joke was on him.

June 20, 2014

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:24

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. The Festival of the Four Winds event continues (and will run through to the end of June), and the Living Story Season Two debuts on July 1st. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

GuildMag logo

June 13, 2014

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:29

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. The Festival of the Four Winds event continues (and will run through the rest of June), and the Living Story Season Two debuts on July 1st. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

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June 9, 2014

QotD: Economic modelling

Filed under: Economics, Gaming, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:03

If we think of ourselves as empiricists who judge the value of the theory on the basis of how well it predicts, then we should have ditched economic models years ago. Never have our models managed with data to predict the major turning points, ever, in the history of capitalism. So if we were honest, we should simply accept that and rethink our approach.

But actually, I think they’re even worse. We can’t even predict the past very well using our models. Economic models are failing to model the past in a way that can explain the past. So what we end up doing with our economic models is retrofitting the data and our own prejudices about how the economy works.

This is why I’m saying that this profession of mine is not really anywhere near astronomy. It’s much closer to mathematized superstition, organized superstition, which has a priesthood to replicate on the basis of how well we learn the rituals.

Yanis Varoufakis, talking to Peter Suderman, “A Multiplayer Game Environment Is Actually a Dream Come True for an Economist”, Reason, 2014-05-30.

June 6, 2014

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:18

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. The Festival of the Four Winds continues (and will run through the rest of the month). ArenaNet announced that Living Story Season Two will be permanent content, and that they’re hoping to also eventually make the Season One content available through the new Living Story Journal. Season Two debuts on July 1st. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.

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June 5, 2014

Silly anti-gaming columnist soundly rebuked by readers

Filed under: Gaming, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:39

In the Telegraph last week, William Henderson first made it clear that “until recently, I’d never played a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. I’ve dabbled in Call of Duty on the Xbox, but that’s as far as it got.” Having gotten that out of the way, he then launched into a condemnation of the very games he admits he doesn’t play and has already explicitly admitted he knows very little about:

… I felt like Neo at the end of The Matrix when he sees the shimmering green code of the system, and finally realises the true nature of the prison for his mind.

I won’t name the game in question: there’s no need – so many of them feature similar ways of getting the gamer hooked. Is it cynical of me that I no longer view video games as a means of innocuous pleasure? Definitely. But that cynicism is entirely justified: it’s a reflection of the nature of video games today. As I’ve previously written about, games today tend to reward repetition rather than skill, and gone is the social element where guys would go round each other’s house and actually be in each other’s company. The more successful you want to be at video games nowadays, the more you need to be a hermit.

This is not to say that I begrudge gamers – everyone needs their downtime. However, the key word here is ‘success’. I’m tired of seeing capable, talented young men numb themselves out from the world in a cocoon of fake achievement. I’m tired of how their reward for completing utterly meaningless tasks is another load of worthless digital points – and more meaningless tasks. I’m tired of how the biological mechanisms which ensured their survival and evolutionary success are being hijacked to make them slaves to their own mind.

I rarely bother to read the comments on any site, but I was impressed with the quality of the comments here:

Gaming article comments 1

Gaming article comments 2

Gaming article comments 3

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