It was a bad day. A lot of bad stuff happened. And I'd love to forget it all. But I don't. Not ever. Because this is what I do. Every time, every day, every second, this: On five, we're bringing down the government.

Saturday, April 30


NoSQL Update

Redis is getting Lua.
Cassandra is getting CQL.*
MongoDB is working on actually writing your data to disk.**

* Not actually SQL, but a useful albeit minimalist subset.
** It's just bizarre looking at a list of features and the excitement not being over the fact that your data is now actually stored in the database, but that the shell has tab completion.  Kids these days.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 03:27 PM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Thursday, April 14


Well, That's Not Very Good

During an idle moment last week just before things blew up at work and I ceased to have any idle moments for a while I bought a copy of Amiga Forever 2011 Plus.  I have the 2006 edition somewhere...  Probably.  But while I can find the activation key I have no idea where the software has got to, and repurchasing it was only $10 more than the upgrade and would save me all the usual upgrade hassles, so I did.

First impression: It comes with Mind Walker!  Awesome!

Second impression: In the previous version there was a little control panel where you could custom-build your Amiga configuration.  Where's that got to?

Third impression: Oh, how cute, it plays Amiga floppy-seeking sounds on the speakers when it boots.

Fourth impression: I'm not sure that resolution is right.  That looks like I've somehow booted into a 320x200 Workbench.  I wonder what happens if I go into full screen moooooooooooooooooooooooooo - Crap.  I think that's actually the first time this PC has ever blue-screened.  And yeah, I mean the realio trulio blue screen.   I saw plenty of them on its predecessor when one of the memory modules went bad, but my past two years have been pleasantly BSOD-free.

What prompted this is that there was an amazing but little known Cinemaware game called Lords of the Rising Sun, set in feudal Japan, with an actual genuine tactical combat system where you could array your tiny troops into formations and carve your way through the enemy's ranks that I had and loved on the Amiga until one day the disk went bad and I never thought I'd see again but is now downloadable free of charge and fully legit from their website (how they are even still in business after all these years is a question I won't ask).  I bought Amiga Forever because it's a nice conveniently bundled and supported edition of UAE that really isn't supposed to blow your entire machine into tiny pieces of flaming crap, but that is apparently what it does, at least in my case if I go into full screen mode which is thus something I will endeavour to avoid in the future.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 07:25 AM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Monday, April 11


Foreshadowing, How Not To Do It

In Dragon Age: Origins* there are as far as I can tell three ways to end the game; two are tragedies and one is a very, very bad idea indeed.  From an in-game point of view, that is; from a player's point of view it might be kind of fun.  The game doesn't end until you win the war, so there's no actual way to lose, no bad ending (unlike, say, Planescape: Torment, which had quite a number of different endings, from ignominious to sublime), but the implications for your character and your companions vary considerably depending on your choices.

You don't actually know how the game will end until very close to the end; in fact very close to the end a couple of different and unexpected possibilities open up, though one subsequently falls three hundred feet onto a stone pavement and effectively removes itself from the game.  But while the broad scope of the ending is never in doubt - it's just a technical matter of somehow killing an immense immortal dragon with the soul of an Elder God** - while you know all along you'll play a part in this outcome, you do get to decide what part.  And if you do it again, and make a different decision, it will end differently.

In Dragon Age II*** you play the Champion of Kirkwall.  That's handed to you by the framing narrative.  You don't have any say in the matter and it's never in doubt; you're going to succeed at this and this is what you're going to succeed at.

Even without all the other signposts that would have had me feeling like I was running through a maze in some insane psychology experiment this is something of a turnoff.  And it's not an interesting maze, either.  I start out as a dirt farmer and become a hero, hurrah, except that there's no notion as to why the place needs a hero at all.  It's just an occupation, as if champions were as commonplace as chartered accountants.

But it occurred to me overnight (I couldn't sleep because things blew up at work on the weekend and my sleep schedule got screwed up again) that there are two very obvious ways that the creators could have made this a much deeper and more interesting story.

First: The framing narrative I mentioned has some chick who looks, dresses, and acts exactly like Servalan from Blake's 7 - i.e. pretty much a textbook slinky female villain - interrogating the dwarf who's recounting your story, seeking information about this champion.

You know what I would have done?  I would have kicked Little Miss Slinky out of the meta-story and replaced her with an earnest greying soldier type looking for the Butcher of Kirkwall.  That is, you know that at some point in the future you're either going to do something horrible or be blamed for something horrible, and then the entire game has you doing good things for good reasons that lead you, one way or another, into disaster.  From which you would perforce extract yourself in the upcoming Dragon Age III, given that II ends on a cliffhanger.****

Second: Alternately, if you keep Slinky-san where she is, you pick up a little throwaway item that's already there and run with it.  The first you see of the main character is when our dwarf starts telling the tale and you drop into a tutorial mode with the Amazing Emo Twins single-handedly battling a darkspawn army.*****  Then a dragon pops up to eat everyone.

And then you cut back to Slinky-san who's saying That's not what happened.  And the dwarf admits that maybe he embellished just a little and picks up the tale as it really was, you create your character, and off you go.

So run with that.  You're playing in a framed narrative with an unreliable narrator.  At any dramatic junction you could be suddenly be dropped out of the story back to Slinky and the Dwarf and get spun off into a different version of events.  Now that I would have played, regardless of the many other flaws in the game.

But no, the writing of Dragon Age II*** is about a subtle as a sack full of pigs.  You know, when you have a rushed game what you usually see is an attempt to produce something good that didn't pan out due to lack of time or money or both.  Here we just have lazy storytelling.  Lazy or simply incompetent, and actually probably the latter because they honestly don't appear to have any idea how badly they've screwed things up.  I think they hired Firefox UI engineers as scriptwriters.

Update: Seems that they did think about the second option but didn't bother to do anything with it.  Which maybe tilts the balance back towards lazy, not that this improves the game in any way.

* That's the good one.
** Answer: Shoot it in the eye.  No, wait, that's FFX.  Answer: You spent the entire middle of the game raising an army.  You have a battle you cannot possibly win on your own.  You work it out.
*** That's the bad one.
**** Warning sign eleven.
***** The ones I wanted to see eaten by darkspawn.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 05:36 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Sunday, April 10


Judging A Book By Its Cover 101

Mass Effect load screen: Beautiful image, lovely music.
Dragon Age load screen: Simple and elegant, beautiful music.
Dragon Age II load screen: Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee...

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 05:44 AM | No Comments | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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