Tuesday Share: June 2, 2009, Edition

Weekly round-up of interesting stories I found on-line

A quick post as I haven’t had much time this week (due to Legislative deadlines) to enjoy news and/or learning about new things, so for what it’s worth here’s this week’s Tuesday Share items:

The big news in California last week (if you’re not talking about the budget) was of course the Supreme Court’s ruling on proposition 8.  If you haven’t read the ruling you should, it is always fascinating to see how case law, precedent, and statutes work, and come, together in deciding these cases.  If you’re too busy to read the ruling (you should make the time) here is a small analysis of it (from a biased source, but who isn’t on this issue?  Thankfully it’s mostly quotes).  This issue isn’t over by far and the discussion Californians will be having with each other should be interesting – Prop. 8 Decision:  What Did they Decide Exactly?

The Internet often explodes over unusual things, and often without any reflection or thoughtful analysis of what is being said.  In an increasingly complex world, it is important to understand where our information comes from and how it is compiled.  Dr. Myers calls bullshit on an article that is heavy on opinion and light on fact – O Brave New World! That has Such Baloney In’t

The CDC is now creating informational videos explaining why vaccinations are good for your children and the country.  These videos deal with the misinformation being peddled by anti-vaxers – Addressing Concerned Parents About Vaccines

Here’s a list of free alternative to the 25 top selling pieces of software on Amazon.com, If you had to pay money for all of these you’d be out 1,000s of dollars.  Opensource for the Win! @ The Simple Dollar

I know I’m becoming an adult because I find myself thinking of how I’ll fund my retirement, investment strategies, and such.  Problem is I don’t want to be bothered by all the data, I don’t want to be a day trader or active investor.  This is fine as there are index funds.  The link explores numerous lazy ways to invest wisely  – The Lazy Way to Investment Success

Play the violent video games of your childhood in your browser!  I don’t know if the in-browser experience also recreates the horrors of setting up LAN games – Doom, Heretic, and Hexen @ Newgrounds

The Art of Manliness is a web community for Men who feel like they’ve had the short end of the stick in our culture for too long, but want Men to be more than the caricature we find of him on television.  Think Teddy Roosevelt with respect for equal rights and a lack of jingoism.  They’re current project is 30 Days to a Better Man Project a plan to help Men implement they’re own self-improvement agenda – LINK,  check out their backlog great articles on dress, manners, sports, camping, etc., a great resource.

Another sign I’m maturing, I’m looking into spending discretionary money on buying land, gold, or other things that increase in value the longer you have them @ The Simple Dollar

Well, that was longer than I thought…

Follow me on Twitter here.

Necron Fleet – Painting and Fleet Creation

I’m pretty sure my Necron fleet is way too large… I’m pushing 2500 points. If I understood how fleets are made in the game I might be better able to determine just how and what to include in a fleet, besides throwing a little of everything in there like I have.

Find the first post in this series here.

Partially painted Shroud Light Cruiser
Partially painted Shroud Light Cruiser

I’m pretty sure my Necron fleet is way too large…  I’m pushing 2500 points.  If I understood how fleets are made in the game I might be better able to determine just how and what to include in a fleet, besides throwing a little of everything in there like I have.  There aren’t that many, I can only think of one, other players of the game here to bounce ideas off of or ask questions about the game system.  If I just knew what is considered standard fleet size, I’d be okay.  While I don’t know what size fleet I’ll end up laying, luckily for me the Necron fleet doesn’t allow for much personal expression, so I don’t have to worry about weapons loadouts on my cruisers and destroyers.

I’ve been painting steadily, but once move up to the cruisers the detail bumps up significantly and thus progress has slowed.  I spent a good chunk of my free time last Saturday just base, first and second coating my three shroud class light cruisers.  I started putting in the detail work on one of them.  The goal this week is to complete the shrouds and move on to my two  Scythe class harvest ship.  I don’t expect to finish them this weekend, but I might, as they don’t seem to have much to them.  Next weekend will be reserved for my Tombship, clean-up, and then sealing of the entire fleet.

Now I just have to find some fellow players!

If you’re interested my fleet right now consists of :

1 Tombship

2 Scythe Harvesters

3 Shroud Light Cruisers

6 Jackal Raiders

8 Dirge Raiders

For more details and free resource on Battle Fleet Gothic click here.

Gameboy Advance games you should have and might be able to find, too!

The Gameboy Advance is a dead console at this point and Nintendo has moved on to greener pastures (The DS). There are doubts we’ll ever see another iteration of the first handheld console… But, you can still play the games from the last version of it on your new DS.

I don’t know if this is going to be a ten list or not, I don’t have very many GBA games as my taste tend to cut out a lot… Anyway here are my recommendations for GBA games.

In no particular order (I really mean this!):

10. Final Fantasy – It seems you can get this game for just about any system, just about anywhere… It might just be the most ported game of all time. Why should you get this one? Simple, you can take it with you. Play a little, grind a little, and shut the lid and continue later when you have a few more minutes. If you don’t like JRPGs and if you can’t handle old-school gameplay (trans. grinding and lots of it) don’t bother instead pick up this next one…

9. Final Fantasy 6 – The last FF made on the SNES, many consider it the pinnacle of the series. The original cart can cost you a bundle on Ebay or Amazon, thankfully you can get it for the GBA at a decent price (P.S. I didn’t check this before I posted so it might have changed).

8. Metroid: Zero Mission – A re-make of the 8-bit original, Metroid is the definitive exploration action adventure game on consoles. This re-imagining of the Metroid storyline adds more weapons, new areas, new story and most thankfully a map function, which was always my biggest problem with the NES original which required you to use lots of graph paper or memorize the map.

7. Gunstar Super Heroes – You think Shootem ups would be a no brainer for a portable system, but the GBA was missing good ones, You can find MegaMan games on the system but at this point the folks at Capcom are mailing it in.

6. Yoshi Island: Super Mario Advance 3 – You’ve played as Mario dozens of times before… It gets boring, right? I love the Nintendo’s Italian plumber as much as the next person, but you know it’s nice to see the story from a different point of view. Yoshi’s Island does just that. You play as Yoshi the lovable green dinosaur who made his debut in Super Mario World, who has to protect baby Mario on a journey to retrieve Luigi who has been kidnapped. Not that the back-story matters much, this is a Mario game and what counts is the gameplay. I’m happy to say that Yoshi’s Island has it in spades! eat baddies, turn them into eggs, and throw said eggs at more baddies. All while not getting hit, if you do Mario flies off your back and starts floating around you have a limited amount of time to catch him before he is kidnapped as well. Lot’s of fun here one of the best games on the SNES and definitely one of the best on the GBA

5. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow – If you’ve been reading here for any length of time you know I’m a fan of this series. So, you had to know something was going to show up here. The first two GBA castlevania games leave a little to be desired, it seems they were still trying to figure the system out. Aria of Sorrow is probably the best game in the series since the iconic Symphony of the Night, so pick it up and introduce yourself to Soma, who is apparently the future of the series (I’m going to miss the Belmonts).

4. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance – This game is a controversial choice but It’s the best turn based strategy I’ve played on the GBA, it’s a little more customizable and fun than Advance Wars and I’ve never been able to get my hands on Fire Emblem or Ogre Tactics (or is it Tactics Ogre?). This game has nothing to do with the original Final Fantasy Tactics though it somehow relates to the world of Ivalice… Nerds can argue over it. What is important for you to know is that you get to make a party and customize and train it as you see fit as you explore the existential predicament of the protagonist, for a taste of it check this out.

3. Pokemon: Leaf Green/Fire Red – a re-release and graphical update of the original Pokemon Red/Blue cartridges for the Gameboy. See where the madness started, sadly you’ll never be able to collect them all, it’s impossible to get your hands on Mew, I believe. Also new is a help feature and the wireless combat capabilities… I don’t know if these will work on your DS? Also after you beat the game you can visit new areas with pokemon from later games like sapphire and ruby. If you don’t know what Pokemon is all about this is the place to start.

2. Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap – Play as Link again on another quest to rescue the princess, this story never changes but the world does. This time Link was be shrunk down to mini size and tromp through dungeons inside everyday objects, the size puzzle are clever and fun and you’ll find classic Zelda gameplay here. Nintendo is very much a fan of “If it isn’t broken don’t fix it”.

1. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga -Remember Super Mario RPG for the SNES? Probably not, because not very man people played it. Anyway this is another adventure/RPG in that same vein. The story takes place in a neighboring Beanbean kingdom where an evil witch has stolen the voice of Princess Peach while posing as ambassadors visiting the Mushroom Kingdom. So Mario and Luigi are off to save her voice. While the game has traditional RPG elements the battles have a heavy emphasis on participation, as pushing buttons at key times can decrease the damage you take and increase the damage you deal. Also different is how puzzles are solved as they’ll often require you to split two brothers up in order to turn switches, open gates, etc, etc. This puzzle solving element is the real joy of the game which is a fun light hearted RPG that doesn’t bog down in grinding… Give it a try if you like it there is a sequel for it on that DS you recently bought 😛

Franchises that really must end, now, for real, seriously.

I play video games as most of you know, I even get to review them sometimes. As the video game industry has expanded and become more mainstream. It has also become more cautious and established games have become more and more prevalent as publishers look for a sure thing to return on their investment. There are some franchises though that no longer deliver on the promise of great game play, or have become so bastardized and watered down that they bear no resemblance to their progenitors. So here is my list of game franchises that the most be put to rest, some quickly and quietly other violently and extreme prejudice! Now in no particular order:

10. Sonic the Hedgehog – What started as Sega’s edgy assualt on Mario Brothers has become a tired mess. Sonic stopped being good around the 2nd game. The move to 3-d for Mario created new exciting gameplay and opened up the Mushroom kingdom, it put Sonic on rails and saddled him with a terrible camera. I stopped paying attention to the horrors of the franchise when their new game was about a black, gun-totting hedgehog… Please Sega put the poor guy out of our misery!

9. Final Fantasy – I’m a hard core Final Fantasy fan. I own every single one, including FFXI which I played for 25 minutes before deleting from my hard-drive (the irony being that it took me over an hour to install the game and jump through all the hoops SquareEnix wants you too (damn those codes!)). I’m done though now and I’m ready for the next thing. I’m tired of buying these games and playing through them for nostalgia’s sake. The developers must have other ideas and games concepts they rather explore, so why cram that in to a FF and load it with all the baggage that comes with FF, the good and the bad. It’s had a great run but the last few instances have been hurt more by their association with Final Fantasy then helped. XII is a great example of this, a great game with innovative gameplay that takes flack for not being close enough to it’s predecessors. Also I’m sick of whiny spiky haired blond kids being the protagonists and girly goth looking bad guys.

8. Half-Life – the FPS game on the PC, Half-life revitalized single and on-line gameplay when it was originally released, and Valve continues to make great games using the engine, which is what they should be doing more of market the engine and create new content using it. I no longer care about Gordon Freeman and the world he lives in. I’m also sick of waiting forever for episodic content, if you’re going down that route you have to deliver more often than every 2 years. The long wait is half the reason I’m no longer interested in the Half-Life world.

7. Guitar Hero – I don’t want to ever see Guitar Hero IV. There isn’t any need for it, all that needs to be done now is sell music to those who already own the game. There really shouldn’t have been a 2 either. All you need to sell is the engine and the guitar at brick box stores and then sell content on-line through Playstation Home or Xbox Live. There isn’t anything else you can do to change the guitar to make it easier and there isn’t anything new to add gameplay wise (Guitar hero is just a rhythm beat game with a different peripheral).

6 . Pokemon- I’ve caught them all, next please.

5. Warcraft- World or otherwise. I think Blizzard has made enough money cribbing ideas from Games Workshop, let’s see something new now Blizzard (this doesn’t mean Diablo or Starcraft either, new means new).

4.  Halo – Maybe I’m at heart a PC gamer but I’ve never. ever been impressed with Halo and I doubt I ever will. The story-line is cribbed from a half dozen sci-fi standards and is overall weak, as is the gameplay. I’m so glad Bungie left Mircosoft and I hope they never ever make another shooter. Halo is about the most over-hyped franchise ever. Doesn’t help that 80% of the people you’ll end up playing with on-line are immature fucktards.

3. Metal Gear Solid – I love MGS, I forced myself through MGS2 and 3. I’m not buying a Playstation 3 to play the fourth.  I don’t care about Kojima’s take on cold war politics or his convoluted (read: unreadable) storylines. I ignore the storylines completely in Metal Gear, as they make no sense whatsoever, I’m there for the gameplay and that has gotten worse through the iterations. I don’t understand how they teach history and politics in Japan but one has to wonder if illegal substances are involved. Anyway, the gameplay has stalemated and I don’t care about Solid anymore so let’s all move one

2. Mega Man – This is a given. Has any franchise been exploited as much as poor Mega Man? I’ve lost count of the games that have the little blue bomber in them. None of which have been as good as Mega Man 2, which was released in 1989. There you go, 18 years of Mega Man games that can’t live up to an original NES game. The latest games to have his name branded on them are wholly unremarkable. Capcom needs to end it or put the guy out to pasture for a while. We’ve all had enough.

1. Metroid Prime – The first Gamecube game got rave reviews from the industry for bringing Samus into the 3rd dimension successfully. I don’t know what game they were playing. I hated the controls for the game, the cycling through visors, the clunkiness of Samus, and the shrinking of the game world. I think the DS, PSP, and Indie game market on PC have proven that 2d games are still viable.  If you want to continue the Prime series of games Nintendo needs to farm out the coding to someone who knows how to do FPS, maybe make some contacts with PC game developers. Cause they are doing it wrong. End it or fix it.

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