Blizzard

It’s one thing to piss on Bethesda; they’ve been remaking Morrowind for a decade. It’s hard to say they know any better. Blizzard, on the other hand, should damn well know better.

I don’t think I need to spend much time explaining Blizzard’s past achievements. Starcraft, Diablo 1 & 2, and Warcraft 2 & 3 were all stellar, each in their own way. Well-developed storylines that take place within lovingly crafted universes, memorable characters with great dialogue, fantastically deep and novel mechanics, and badass cutscenes to boot. WoW, too, was a grand achievement, if only because it so thoroughly excelled beyond every other MMO on the market. What the hell happened since then? Why do I hate everything they’ve done in the last 3 years?

Continue reading Blizzard

expectaculous

I wrote this for my abnormal psychology class, in response to the prompt “Identify a behavior that you engage in that others might classify as ‘abnormal’. Why is this behavior seen as different or unusual? How have you responded to the reactions of others?”. My choice of topic may at first seem glib, but I enjoyed writing it, and I like where I ended with it. I love being in school again. Nowhere else might I be asked to conjure up something of this nature.

I work in an office where the median age is in the late 50’s to early 60’s. Being 22 years-old, a number of my habits and behaviors naturally come across as abnormal to my co-workers. Some of these are merely a feature of different tastes and interests, but those that seem to have the most significant impact upon my interaction with my co-workers seem closely related to the different kind of relationship I have with technology. I have been using computers in various shapes and sizes since I was three years-old, and I generally find it extremely easy to engage in multiple activities (of a specific nature) simultaneously or in rapid succession.

Continue reading expectaculous

dilution

Realistically, this post should have come two months ago; most of the inspiration for this came while beating Skyrim until it was long past the dead horse stage. If you are unfamiliar with the Elder Scrolls franchise of RPGs, this may cause you to feel bored. I won’t be offended if you turn back now.

This game devoured my time in a fashion not unlike that of a blue whale consuming krill. I purchased it the night it came out, and having been stricken with viral bronchitis, it proceeded to consume a full 110 hours of my spare time over the next ten days. I will credit this ferocity primarily to the bronchitis, rather than the game. In any case, I left the game utterly beaten and broken. I completed every quest line, owned every property, blah blah blah. Point is, I utterly exhausted its content. It held no secrets from me.

The first few hours are delightful – Skyrim is filled to the brim with things that you wish were in more video games. It’s a high fantasy interpretation of Grand Theft Auto. This idea alone has caused dignified men and women to drool for socially unacceptable periods of time. It’s natural that everyone would want to love it, that it would receive rave reviews across the board. Yet, the better I got to know Skyrim, the less I loved it. I even began to resent it very deeply. I am no Scrooge. I do not dislike things simply because they are widely enjoyed. I do, however, feel agony at missed opportunities and misguided endeavors. The ES franchise, I have come to conclude, is one long story of these very things. Looking back, I realize that they’ve all failed to accept some very basic facts of life. Each of them have been an ocean wide and an inch deep.

Continue reading dilution

dreamy

I wrote an email. Wouldn’t you like to read it? It’s about Minecraft.

Dear Notch,

I’m a long-time player of Minecraft – since 1.1.0 alpha. The single player mode consumed about 20 hours of my time, but I put it down when I realized that no one else would ever be able to enjoy the fortress I’d created. A few weeks later, I got together with a group of my friends and we started a server. It’s tough to say how much time I’ve put into the projects on that server (see here) – a thousand hours would be a low estimate. I mention this solely to support the statement that I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about where Minecraft has been, where it’s going, and what its potential is. Right now, that potential is being squandered. You created a wonderful game, the first viable entry into what could be a totally new genre of video games. However, I feel strongly that the direction you’ve taken the game is one of very, very limited potential.

Continue reading dreamy

replay

In January, my friends and I embarked on a project that has become, for me, a serious creative outlet. We decided to start building a town on our Minecraft server. If you don’t know what Minecraft is, that’s okay – all you need to know is that it’s essentially multiplayer Legos. This post is an attempt at sharing some of the amazing creations and the process behind the town’s development.

We didn’t have any idea what would go on it and we didn’t set any rules for what could or couldn’t be made. We just started making stuff. The location we chose was nothing more than hills and trees. Sitting in the middle of nowhere, the first creation was a statue of a bug with a sword plunged through it, and some signs (note – these are all recent shots, unfortunately I don’t have any from the beginning days):


By Ben

Here’s what the signs said:

The Bug King as he was found in 1388, after having been slain by the Bug Slayer. The Bug King’s death marked the end of the Insectowars, and ushered in a century of peace and a new golden age.

Continue reading replay

more birthday manifesto

A big thanks to Ben Myers for the domain name suggestion. A few people said they would have liked oftim.net more, but I figured it was time to embrace the name of the blog. Maybe we’ll see oftim make a return somewhere else, though.

Relationships, con’t

As unpredictable and tempestuous as my emotional state can be, I’ve never had cause to question the depth the connections I have with my family and friends. Even at my most self-absorbed, I could never bring myself to say that no one in the world cares about me or loves me. Perhaps my greatest mistake over the past years has been giving legitimacy to feelings of loneliness. Which leads me to conclude that the loneliness I’ve experienced has very little to do with a lack of companionship, but a discomfort with being alone. It would be easy to pass that discomfort off as me just being a social guy, but I think the existential crisis demands a more complete explanation.

Continue reading more birthday manifesto

emulation

Video games have been a defining force in my life as far back as my memory goes. The relationship is complex and varied, but it has remained, for me, totally unexplained. What have the 20,000 hours of my life spent immersed in virtual entertainment done for me? Why do my friends and I find such continued delight in them? Are they really just abstracted pleasure buttons, isolating us from the real world? Do video games actually have anything to offer society aside from escape?

Continue reading emulation

hiphopscotch

Let’s start this with a primer.

Until recently, I must confess that I held no special love for America. It wasn’t a hate, but more a boredom and lack of hope for progress. Having witnessed first hand the incredible amount of history and tradition that forms the backdrop of European culture, anything in America just pales in comparison. Prototypical American practicality and efficiency do not leave much room for what we largely consider to be the frills of society: artistic expression, creative thinking, and serious introspection.

Continue reading hiphopscotch

a little break

I’ve been doing some writing by my lonesome recently, but I figured it would be healthy to share a little something on the less creative side.

I don’t consider myself a particularly gadget-crazy person, but I do read a large volume of tech and gadget news week-to-week, which keeps me up on the new and pretty things that I will never buy. I did, however, make one exception to this pattern in buying a Zune HD. I pre-ordered one a few months back, payed the extra two bucks for release day shipping, and got to participate in the communal excitement that occurs with the release of something new and delightful in the world of technology.

It’s not that I harbor anything negative against Apple; I hold little regard for blind brand-maligning on every side of the fence. I am, however, quite disinterested in the iPod line. Though highly functional and decently stylish, I know my tendencies, and I am certain that I would find myself becoming quickly bored with something I’ve used hundreds of times without ever having owned one. My vanity is also quite consistent; the thing simply looks far prettier than its competition, and if I’m to be using something each and every day, I would expect it to meet a minimum standard of fashion.

Thus far, my choice has served me extremely well. It achieves a level of design that I think exemplifies where the user experience should be going: it executes its intended purpose without flaw, and I daresay that the experience of that execution is so smooth that it borders on the feeling of pleasant and calming. Something that gadgetry to date has failed to emulate is the sense of responsive tactile fiddling. A book’s pages can be idly flipped to and fro. A pen can be clicked again and again, until the person sitting next to you shoves a sock down your throat. Even something as simple as a piece of string occupies your fingers, delaying a feeling of idleness. Similarly, the Zune HD’s interface is so well designed that I find myself flipping through menus and exploring the mass of stuff I’ve put on there without even thinking about it. It leaves me excited for where technology will go from here, and that’s a nice feeling to have.

It also happens to be an immense upgrade from my previous mp3 player. For years I’ve been carrying around an 8gb refurbished Sansa that would freeze up several times a day, had barely ten hours of battery life, and looked slightly worse than Frankenstein on a Monday morning. It served its purpose nobly enough, but the massive gap between what I had and what I have certainly feeds a bit of the glee I feel over the Zune HD (I’m careful to include the HD portion, as I was no fan of the earlier Zunes). The fact that I can charge it for less than an hour and go for four days of constant usage blows my mind. Being able to fit (just barely) all of my music on it is also a delight; I’ve been slowly discovering portions of my collection that I never even knew existed.

I’ve heard high praise for its integration with the Zune marketplace, but not being one to buy music very often, I haven’t investigated it much. The browser is good enough for what I do (almost solely Google reader), and the apps thus far are mildly entertaining – though the fact that they throw ads at you is certainly infuriating.

A worthwhile purchase, for my own.

Creativity

Though I stated that I got myself a PayPal account set up so I could reliably obtain all these obscure songs I’ve been after for so long, I discovered a magnificent program that strips music from any kind of video file, in addition to performing every type of conversion and compression known to man for audio and video. It can also automatically record online video/audio streams.

Mmm.

Correspondance

For some reason, I feel like posting this here. It’s an email that I doubt any of you will find meaningful.

date: Sep 23, 2007 10:26 PM
subject: Communication & Moderation

D,

I have no real way of knowing how interested you are in the workings of the communities outside of SK.org. If you aren’t at all, then I can safely say this email won’t interest you. If you are, I’d like to ensure another player-run forum doesn’t blow up in the face of the game.

I’m sure you know by now that SKLogs.com has now sunk, javarmonkey.com being the replacement. While it is self-described as not being focused on SK, it does have a section devoted to SK. With that, it has the potential to enrich or degrade SK, just as SKLogs did. Communication goes a long ways towards ensuring that history doesn’t repeat itself. That might sound cliche, but there’s a lot we can learn from SKLogs.

The relationship between SK.org and SKLogs was abysmal, at best. Its origins were humble enough, but time saw a massive schism between the two, when really, they’re both working to try and make the game more fun for everybody. I don’t need to describe SKLogs’ devolution; we both know what the problems were and why they were so bad. But, I think it was a necessary problem for the community to face. SKLogs made mainstream what supamang and Chemhound did in the pseudo-underground. It forced the players and the staff to make a very conscious choice about how they played the game from an OOC perspective. Not visiting SKLogs meant sacrificing a huge wealth of information as well as a very large social connection to the other players. That wasn’t the case, before. Additionally, the wealth of information created an illusion of necessity – players seeking to maintain their status as knowledgeable and elite felt required to read and participate in order to stay on the “bleeding edge” of competition inside the game.

While it is easy to decry such an obviously weak attitude towards the game, most players don’t, even now, realize that they were so immersed in the cycle. History seems to indicate that there’s no way to change these trends – which is why a place without moderation became such a powder keg, self-destructing in a pile of chaos and flames. With this, we’re presented with the same situation, but with fresh experience and knowledge to learn from. A player-run site is a necessity for SK. As one forum passerby, Joebones notes: a strong player-run forum is a sign of good health in and outside of the game. There has to be a place where players can go to be moderated less strictly – otherwise they’ll get fed up, and something on the extreme will appear, like another SKLogs.

I am (for the time being) moderating the SK section of Java’s site. Her goal (as well as mine) is to eliminate the presence of information that detracts from the game – working out what kind of information that is, exactly, isn’t easy. That’s why I’m writing this. A successful player-run SK forum (or subsection of a forum, as they case may be) should be focused on complementing existing structures and material without fighting against the ideals of the game. I think I need your help to do that – if you’re willing to provide it.

From what I can tell, a major portion of SKLogs’ failure was derived from a lack of communication. What would you like to see in this player-run community? Where should it differ from SK.org? How can I make sure the two aren’t working against each other? How comfortable are you with any of this?

Thanks for your time and consideration. I hope I’m not too long-winded, but I thought I should be thorough about all this.

Salandarin / Tim

Downfall

en·tro·py
–noun

3. (in cosmology) a hypothetical tendency for the universe to attain a state of maximum homogeneity in which all matter is at a uniform temperature (heat death).
4. a doctrine of inevitable social decline and degeneration.

There’s a few ironies I keep pondering, as I watch my once-beloved series 24.

Watching the series degrade is a sad business. While it has a moment or two from minute to minute, it’s hard to sort through the piles of ignorance its creators insist on shoveling out. Determined to cater to a less informed audience (which is, of course, the largest portion of the market), Jack Bauer has gone from a subtle badass backed by a more or less solid actor, to a new Chuck Norris, backed by similarly Norris-esque acting.

24 has gone (or is going, depending on how much they’re determined to milk from it) through a state of entropy, one that fits both of the supplied definitions (there are more). It attains homogeneity – it appeals to the masses, it now blends into pop-culture, and in doing so, falls from its once glorious and mighty state.

🙁

Epoch

A small glimpse into what I spent the last 1886 hours doing, since last July. I’m not expecting you to care or even to understand.

You say ‘My time is drawing to a close, regardless. I will not lead the nation to the Empress’ return. Another will have to.’

Uillean asks to you ‘Your time?’

Uillean clears his throat, beginning to speak Zhensh.

You say to Uillean ‘I will be stepping down, in the coming months.’

Uillean says ‘Oh, my friend..’

Uillean sighs.

The distant howl of a lonely creature echoes through the area.

You smile at him.

Uillean says ‘No one can take your place.’

You say to Uillean ‘But someone will have to.’

Uillean says ‘That much is True.’

It is noon.

Uillean says to you ‘I will have to build trust with a new commander all over again.’

Uillean chuckles sadly.

You say to Uillean ‘Zhenshi won’t be the same after I leave.’

It begins to rain.

You say ‘It molds itself to whoever commands.’

You say ‘The land…’

Corathir runs a hand across the dirty floor.

You say ‘It lives, in a strange way. I feel more of a connection to it, than with mortals, anymore.’

A light drizzle is falling here.

You say to Uillean ‘Let that not be a slight to you, friend. You are as loyal and trustworthy as any I’ve known.’

Uillean laughs.

Uillean says ‘By no means.’

Uillean says to you ‘I am no stranger to attaching myself to things eternal.’

You say ‘For god and country.’

Uillean lightly hits a fist to his chest and nods his head.

You tell Sirano ‘I’m feeling odd.’

You tell Sirano ‘You may be the last person I bring to life, Sirano.’

You tell Sirano ‘For in a month, I retire from my duties.’

Sirano replies ‘Ah, I do not wish to drain you that much.’

You stop resting, and sit up.

Sirano replies ‘My life is not worth another’s for no cause.’
You start to concentrate.

You utter the words, ‘candusgjfcandusqnn’.
You have resurrected a lurid male half-elf!

You rest your tired bones.

You smile at him.

You say ‘Life anew upon the wings of the Restless, Sirano.’

A lurid male half-elf tilts his head to the side, offering a smile towards the peaceful half-elf.

A lurid male half-elf says ‘My thanks to you sir, and your Lord. However I wish not to be the cause of your downfall.’

You chuckle.

You say to a lurid male half-elf ‘Not at all.’

A lurid male half-elf looks at you.

You say to a lurid male half-elf ‘You will come to a time, when your service is done.’

You say to a lurid male half-elf ‘I’m reaching it. That’s all.’

A lurid male half-elf gestures tot he floor next to the peaceful half-elf.

Corathir offers a warm smile.

A lurid male half-elf asks ‘May I sit?’

You say ‘Of course.’

A lurid male half-elf says ‘Ah, well perhaps I should be dressed first.’

You shrug in response to his question.

A lurid male half-elf says ‘I’ve never done this…’

A lurid male half-elf struggles with the magical words.

You say ‘Sixty-two years has led me to barely notice such things.’

A lurid male half-elf starts to concentrate.

A lurid male half-elf utters the words, ‘qarr abrazak’.

A lurid male half-elf starts to concentrate.

A lurid male half-elf utters the words, ‘qarr abrazak’.
A lurid male half-elf’s gear appears on him in a flash of holy light!

You hum softly.

A lurid male half-elf grins.

A lurid male half-elf lowers himself to a resting position next to the other half-elf.

A lurid male half-elf sits down and rests.

You stop resting, and sit up.

You start to concentrate.

You utter the words, ‘pzar’.
Ok.

You rest your tired bones.

You say to a lurid male half-elf ‘Tell me about yourself, young knight.’

A lurid male half-elf says ‘Sirano, as you know.’

Corathir dips his head.

You say ‘Corathir Veltre, as you know.’

A lurid male half-elf greets everyone in the room.

You greet Sirano.

Sirano says ‘Of myself? Well sir, not much to tell to be honest with you. My travels have not taken me very far.’

Sirano asks to you ‘If I may ask sir, how long have you lived?’

You hum softly.

Sithara tells you ‘Where will I find you then?’

You say to Sirano ‘Not long, by the measure of most elf-men. Sixty-two years, forty-five of which have been in my Lord Zavijah’s service.’

Sirano nods his head slowly.

Sirano says ‘Is still quite long, from my point.’

You tell Sithara ‘My Lord’s temple in Nerina.’

Sirano asks to you ‘Where will you go?’

Sithara replies ‘By the libraries, yes?’

You tell Sithara ‘Indeed.’

You say to Sirano ‘I have not yet decided. I’ve a chance at staying to teach future Talons, but I may decide to retire entirely, and…live out life, as a normal man, with my wife.’

You say to Sirano ‘In essence…I would go home.’

Sirano says to you ‘A worthy ambition, no doubt well earned from your service.’

You say to Sirano ‘I pray such. I have done my Lord’s bidding, I think, as long as it took me to do it.’

You say to Sirano ‘You see, I was brash, in my youth.’

You say to Sirano ‘Mighty ambitions, but lacking in humbleness, and most certainly wisdom.’

Sirano says to you ‘From what I have seen, common for those of our kin while in their youth.’

Sirano says ‘There is no shame in our past, even if there be mistakes and tarnishes there.’

Corathir chuckles lightly, nodding several times.

Sirano says to you ‘We are indeed, a sum of our mistakes.’

You say to Sirano ‘Ah, I bear my past gladly. It is my successes that wear me down more quickly than my failures, however.’

You say to Sirano ‘Friendships made, and watching them dwindle away by the tide of the River. I have watched nearly all of my mortal companions die away, in my life. While it is has been suggested to me that I just…up and make new friends…’

You chuckle.

The sliding door opens.

A clear-eyed female elf darts in from the east.
A nightling soars in from the east.

A clear-eyed female elf closes the sliding door.

You smile at her.

Sirano looks at a clear-eyed female elf.

Sirano looks at a clear-eyed female elf.

You say to Sirano ‘It’s saying goodbye to friends that becomes the hardest task of all, you might find.’

Corathir glances to the clear-eyed elf with a wink.

A clear-eyed female elf bows her head towards the altar, then nods to the half-elves.

A clear-eyed female elf asks ‘Friends?’

A clear-eyed female elf looks at Sirano.

A clear-eyed female elf looks at you.

You say to a clear-eyed female elf ‘I’m reminiscing with the young knight. I feel old, today.’

You grin at her.

Sirano says to you ‘I would imagine so, however we never truly say goodbye, all we do is see you further down the road.’

Sirano stops resting, and clambers to his feet.

A clear-eyed female elf says to you ‘When I was your age…’

Sirano says to you ‘And with that good sir, I wish you a happy retirement, or a pleasant trevel to whereever you might go.’

A clear-eyed female elf chuckles and waves her words away.

Sirano says to you ‘I’ll see you further down the road, friend.’

You say to Sirano ‘Thank you, good sir. I pray you find your travels well, and I hope you find wisdom all along the way.’

Corathir dips his head to the lurid half-elf.

Sirano slowly bows before the half-elven man.

Sirano opens the sliding door.

Sirano walks east.
You hear foot steps nearby.

You close the sliding door.

A Large Altar Room
The velvet carpet ends at the simple, arched doorway into this spacious and imposing room. The gold-colored ceiling is arched, and adorned with an etched silver pattern along the edges, complementing silver walls with gold etchings at the top as well as the edges. At the far end of the room is a large, bronze altar stands atop a round, smooth slab of granite. The marble floor shines brightly from attentive care, adding to the rooms heavenly glow. A large tapestry hangs on the wall behind the altar and is the only decoration gracing the walls of this room. The room is otherwise unfurnished but exudes a sense of integrity and pride.
Obvious exits: sw

This is how your action description will appear while standing:
Corathir is on both knees before the altar.

Corathir bows his head, and closes his eyes.

pray I pray, my Lord Zavijah, that I have pleased you in my service. That I could walk in the light of your Wisdom is all I could ever ask for. You have blessed my life more greatly than I would dare to imagine, and I praise and thank you for this journey I have walked. May I continue to honor you, in all my days.
You pray to the gods for help.

Corathir lifts his head, and opens his eyes to look upon the altar with misty eyes.

Corathir nods to himself, once.

Corathir rises to his feet, and bows low before the altar.

You are already standing.

This is how your action description will appear while standing:
Corathir is here.

You walk southwest.

Budding Terrorists

From Slashdot:

“A student at the Houston-area Clements High School was arrested, sent to an “Alternative Education Center” and banned from graduation after school officials found he created a video game map of his school. School district police arrested the teen and searched his home where they confiscated a hammer as a ‘potential weapon’. ‘ “They decided he was a terroristic threat,” said one source close to the district’s investigation.’ With an upcoming May 12 school board election, this issue has quickly become political, with school board members involved in the appeal accusing each other of pandering to the Chinese community in an attempt to gain votes.”

One more, two more.

Some good comments:

I made a map of my school shortly after the Columbine thing, for Duke Nuken 3D.

I got extra credit from my Visual Arts teacher for being ‘creative’, and lemme tell you, I had a HELL of a lot more than a hammer for weapons at my house.”

(in response)

My Visual Arts teacher gave me an “Incomplete” for the course. I shouldn’t have made my map for Duke Nukem Forever.

Dude, you are way underestimating the seriousness of this issue. They found a hammer in this kid’s house…a fucking HAMMER. He could easily have knocked one, maybe even two people unconscious with that thing before anyone could do anything about it.

What does anyone need with a hammer in their house anyway? Forget about banning him from graduation, this little mini-Osama should get sent straight to Gitmo. There is absolutely no reason to have a hammer in your home unless you intend to commit a terrorist act.

Plus, if all that weren’t bad enough, this kid is ASIAN. Christ man, do you have any idea how crazy those Asians are? One of them killed a bunch of people at Virginia Tech just a short time ago. This categorically PROVES that all Asians are sociopaths just itching to shoot up a school. You can’t argue with this logic, it is completely impervious.

You have no idea what we’re up against here, man. This shit is SERIOUS. Don’t come crying to me when your kid comes home with a big nasty bump on his head because one of these little Asian al Qaeda wannabes smacked him over the head with a mallet. You were warned.”

(in response)

I spoke with Charles Hammerton about this, and you are neglecting many aspects.

He might have had the hammer for home defence. There is nothing wrong with some sport hammering from time to time. Of course, we believe that hammers should be licensed, and background checks done before a hammer can be purchased. Training is, of course, very important, and hammers should never be left where children could harm themselves with them. If appropriate, a hammer lock can be had at any high school that teaches wrestling.

Dont forget about the constitution, and the right to bear hammers.

Responsible hammer ownership is a right, and should not be infringed by a few nut cases.

As Charles said “you can have my hammer, when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers”.”

Dont forget about the constitution, and the right to bear hammers.

People are always misquoting that amendment. It’s the right to hammer bears. Which, as the supreme court affirmed in smokey v. ashcroft, means that you have the right to get a bear drunk if it’s more than 18 years old.”

(in response)

He could easily have knocked one, maybe even two people unconscious with that thing before anyone could do anything about it.

As a proud, lifetime member of the National Hammer Association, I must insist that we not go too far here. It’s part of our constitutional rights – the right to Arm and Hammer – to arm ourselves with hammers. This incident is merely one more reason that everyone ought to carry hamers everywhere they go – if others had been armed with hammers, this student would have had a serious disincentive to consider possibly carrying out the egregious act he was prevented from possibly committing.

Soon, crazy liberal will want to outlaw air hammers, jack hammers, Mike Hammers, pipe hammers – even Diesel hammers – you name it. Act now to preserve your hammer rights – join the NHA.”

(in response)

Hey! If we outlaw hammers, only outlaws will be able to put shelves up!

(in response)

Don’t underestimate the hammer. Remember the Blacksmith of Brandywine.

During the US revolutionary war, a blacksmith performed an errand for General Washington, only to return home and find that redcoats had murdered his family in his absence. The blacksmith took a heavy sledge from his workshop and walked onto the battlefield of Brandywine. There, before they finally brought him down, he slew 20 british soldiers. With a hammer.

No, I’m not being serious about a hammer being a viable weapon, not these days. (Although note that the Blacksmith story is true, from all references I can find.)

I just found it ironic, that the Blacksmith of Brandywine went on a murderous rampage in response to oppression from a ruthless government…and now, our government is so scared of our children that they’re even taking our hammers away.”

1. It is not illegal to create game maps for a first-person shooter game.
2. It is not illegal to show maps for a first-person shooter game to someone else.
3. It is not illegal to possess five swords.
4. The board had nothing to react to in the first place.
5. The student committed no crime for which the police could legally arrest him, at least pre-PATRIOT Act.

He, an honor student, was removed from his high school and forced to attend an alternative (read: for delinquents) education center, will not be allowed to receive his diploma with the rest of his class, and will probably have difficulty, if not being accepted to, at least getting financial aid for a good college. All because he went to a school staffed and parented by a group of reactionary morons.

How should the school have handled it? There’s nothing to handle. When/if parents complained, the appropriate authority figures should have repeated my response to #1: “It is not illegal to create game maps for a first-person shooter game.””

A terrorist under every rock, and a WMD in every child’s hand. When will this crap cease and common sense prevail?

Oh, that’s right: never.

I’d read the article, but it’s been Slashdotted.”

(in response)

Since I’m from the deep south (somewhere east of Texas and west of Mississippi) I feel qualified to say…

This is par for the course in this part of the United States. Ignorance, fear and xenophobia run rampant, white men run everything, and opportunism prevails at every turn. Police forces are treated as a paramilitary force, and zero tolerance is the rule in schools – even though it only means that more kids every year get fewer chances at straightening up and becoming successful.

Louisiana (and other population-losing red states) wonder why it’s best and brightest move away as soon as they finish college – crap like this is the reason why.”

An overreaction is when you lock up someone for life when they stole a loaf of bread. This doesn’t even accomplish their stated goal – to protect their school from an unbalanced and violent individual.

Let’s assume for a second that they are right. The guy is violent, mentally unstable and is using his home grown CS map to practice his planned killing spree (which was apparently to be carried out with a hammer). What do they do? They merely transfer him to a different school. In no way, shape or form do any of the school’s actions prevent him from entering the school again and carrying out his assumed plans. At best, they’ve moved the problem to a different place, and put others at risk that hadn’t been at risk before. At worst, it really pisses him off, and he escalates his planned violence (pipe bombs really aren’t hard to make). Any which way you look at it, the actions of the school and the police were completely irresponsible.

Factor in that the guy had none of these plans to begin with, and you’re looking at a massively incompetent school administration, board and police whose only goal is to cover their ass. They don’t care whether what they did solved any issues; all they wanted was to have something to point to if the student does go apeshit and the inevitable question of “who’s to blame?” rolls around.

The US is going down the shitter, and attitudes like these towards kids and education are the reason why. Way to ruin your future generation.”

I died a little on the inside when I read this. 🙁

(in response)

Don’t worry, you’ll respawn in Mrs. Crabapple’s classroom for round 2.

Doubt

Interesting two days. I got in the mood to take pictures again, although these really aren’t as great as they could be – if I had a clue what I was doing with the camera I could probably make these a bit more accessible, but as is, they’re best viewed in a dark room, and the thumbnails don’t even come close to doing justice.

South Hill:

A kind of bizarre tree/street light shot:

My favorite, just the road and some lights:

A tree against the night sky:

Another road shot, the house at the end is mine:

The moon, obscured by trees:

Student housing, obscured by chain-link:

The moon, obscured by clouds:

An apartment complex sidewalk:

Mmmm. I should really invest in some better equipment for this, very few of those shots came out like I wanted them to.

SK, Revisited

Interesting article on Slashdot at the moment concerning game addiction. The comments in particular are quite insightful. I’ll paste some of my favorites here, because I know most of you are lazy.

Where are the parents in all of this?

“Seriously.

His parents were frightened of him because, weighing more than 130kg, he was too strong for them to confront. Eventually they threatened to kick him out unless he enrolled for a month of therapy.

You’re the parents, you make the rules. Pull the plug, take the computer away, do something, anything. You’d probably hit the roof if you caught your kid with a joint, but when he wants to wrap himself up in computer games you just fucking sit there and let it happen. That shit pisses me off. I hope this clinic is working with parents too to make sure they can control their child’s behavior.”

Re: Where are the parents in all of this?

“Maybe when someone is deciding how to handle a problem with their own child, doing anything isn’t good enough? Maybe they want to do the right thing

It’s odd to me that some Slashdotters take “the parents should be responsible” to mean “the parents should do all parenting alone”. Parents are responsible for the behavior of their children, but if the behavior surpasses the parents ability to moderate/fix/heal, then why on earth should we mock the parents for seeking specialist help? Are we going to make fun of all youth counselors and child psychologists now because “You’re the parent, you make the rule?” Part of holding parents responsible for their own children should be allowing them access to the tools they need to do that job right.”

Re: wha?

“Most people hooked on, say, heroin are forced to keep taking it for more reasons than mere lack of willpower. Chemical addiction carries signifigant withdrawl side effects, some of which can be life threatening. Trust me, if you’ve ever known a real addict, you wouldn’t just sum up their addiction as “lack of willpower”.

People hooked on things that don’t carry an external chemical componant, or are only very mildly chemically addictive, don’t have that problem. Yes, addiction can be purely neurochemical, with nothing added to the system, but that isn’t anywhere near as signifigant. People can get hooked on gaming, gambling, sex, religion, TV, violence or minimally addictive food or drugs like caffine or marjuana. Their problem is lack of willpower. Other addicts have the far more serious issue of major chemical dependancy, breaking away from which really does require a detox clinic, or support groups, or any number of other external sources of intervention.

I’m not saying that psychological addiction isn’t real. It is. It’s just not on par with what a serious addict has to deal with. Saying “Real addiction is all about lack of willpower” lumps cokeheads into the same category as people hooked on poker. And the people running this clinic are essentially lumping game addiction into the same category as drug addiction; this isn’t fair to either the hooked gamers or the drug addicts.”

[on a side note, I love this guy’s sig – “Erotic is when you use a feather, exotic is when you use the whole chicken.”]

Re: wha?

“Eight years ago, my father had a brain aneurysm and stroke and I am his sole caregiver. I was 21 when it happened. I’ve mostly been stuck at home taking care of him for my entire 20s while I watched friends finish school, get married, have kids, etc. Between the area where I live and the limited ability I have to go out to enjoy life with my friends, I really started losing touch with society and became depressed.

In 2003, my best friend bought EQ at the urging of one of his co-workers. After two months of him nagging me incessantly to try it, against my better judgement, I did. Everything started out fine, him and I would log on for 2-3 hours a night to play together and that was it. About two months into it, him and I were asked to become officers in our guild. At the point you become an officer, you suddenly feel a whole lot more responsibility and you feel like you’re important – everyone in your guild counts on you. Not long after, I became our raid leader and, given the absence of the guild leader for a long period of time, people began to see me as the guild leader as well. Eight months in, I was tagged with the guild leadership officially. I now had seven officers and in the neighborhood of 120 guild members counting on me to be there. By now, I wasn’t playing 2-3 hours a day, I was playing 8-12 hours a day. It wasn’t reality, but it felt real enough – I was important to people and interacting with “society.” Along the way, I met a girl from the other side of the US and we had a fairly turbulent relationship(mostly due to her being bipolar), but we were in love and planned to get married. I knew that EQ was taking up my entire life, but my girlfriend was there and that’s how we spent time together from 3k miles apart and I was the engine the drove hundreds of cogs. At our peak, we had 1039 tagged toons.

This spring, my relationship of two years ended with her and at the same time, the officers staged a coup as the pressures from EQ’s death throes were mounting (yeah, EQ is dying, netcraft, server consolidations and mmogchart confirm it). About a month after I left the girl and my guild, I realized that I no longer had a reason to play and I simply logged off one night never to return again. That was three months ago last weekend.

For me, it wasn’t a game I was addicted to, it was all the social interaction, feeling important and spending time with my gf. After years of being depressed, it was nice to be somebody even if it didn’t mean anything in real life. After the way things ended, my biggest regret is that the things that helped me break that addiction didn’t happen earlier. Oddly enough, despite becoming “nothing” again, I haven’t been depressed and I find myself enjoying the mundane things in life that I neglected for 2.5 years. I still frequently think about EQ and some of the fun times I had in it, but I have no urge to play it anymore… and I deliberately avoid anything that might suck me into a similar situation again. In the meantime, I’m trying to rebuild my life even though I feel that I’m fighting an uphill struggle now at 29.

Our brains are an electro-chemical system and I would argue that the stimuli that make you feel important and good about yourself can be just as addicting as putting that cigarette up to your lips, especially when you and the rest of the world appear to have given up on each other. At 21, when you still have pretty much everything going for you and life hasn’t completely knocked every one of your plans for the future out of whack, it’s pretty easy to think idealistically about how everyone should be able to feel/be/do exactly like you.”

Why is your experience not ‘real life’?

“Why do people think it’s ‘not real’ if it’s conducted primarily on a computer?

Before Everquest existed, I ‘was somebody’ online – ran a guild on a MUD (although not as big as yours), and eventually even ended up running the MUD itself. There were definitely some stretches where I’d often spend 16 hours a day on the computer.

But I’ve also ‘been somebody’ in real life too. I have a real job with real responsibilities and most of the people I work with I have met once, or no times at all, and interact with almost entirely via computer. I’m also the president of one national non-profit organization with a few thousand members I never see, and run another business with 30,000 customers I don’t see either.

And I find that I often spend 16 hours a day on the computer.

Now, most people would consider my job, my non-profit, and my business to be ‘real life’, and I enjoy them. So why are people who enjoy spending 16 hours a day doing something else on the computer not doing ‘real life’? I really can’t think of anything that’s much different between the 16 hours a day I spend playing networked computer games and the 16 hours a day I spend doing various forms of (enjoyable) work. And while you may have felt compelled to play more everquest because people were depending on you, how is that any different than me feeling compelled to go to work for the same reason?

Computer games are certainly no less productive than the time I’ve spent shooting pool at the bar. But somehow going out and shooting pool at the bar is OK while playing games at home is not – why? Also, why is someone who spends 16 hours a day reading books and/or watching TV considered to be doing ‘real life’? All you’re trading is a networked screen with a non-networked screen or page.

Playing on the computer a lot, in and of itself, isn’t an addiction. It’s only natural that you’re going to do the things you enjoy doing as much as you can, and playing computer games isn’t any different than reading or anything else, except people who do those other activities want to pretend their life is more meaningful than computer gamers I guess.

People need to understand what an addiction really is. If you are COMPELLED to do something so much that it interferes with your ability to pay your rent, feed yourself, or maintain relationships that are important to you, that’s an addiction. If it consumes all of your free time, that’s just recreation. And I think it’s a tragedy to try and label someone an ‘addict’ just because of their prefered form of recreation.

Anyway, the time you spend on EQ was real life. And it wasn’t because you were ‘addicted’, it’s because you enjoyed it. Not playing anymore wasn’t an addiction-ending event; you just stopped enjoying playing so you stopped playing. Simple as that.”

Overreactive Parents

“I think for the most part it’s a result of overreactive parents, combined with what I like to call “baby sitter syndrome” (“Why won’t the public school teach my kids morals?!?! Why won’t the gov’t baby sit my kids?!?! Oh my, my kids are playing video games all the time, and I can’t turn it off because they cry and scream and make a scene! I need a Gaming Clinic/Baby sitter to fix my kids for me!”)

Disclaimer: I don’t have kids of my own so the above is probably warped by views of other people who don’t have kids of their own, not to mention stereotypes are rarely all-encompassing. Don’t take it too personally. I was, however, at one point a kid, and I did have parents (who restricted my video gaming and computer time) so I think I still have some things to say on the matter.

Gaming for me was a phase. I always have enjoyed a good game, but it’s not the same as it was when I was a kid. I would play games for hours on end, but now it seems my standards are higher or my attention span lower, because games don’t tend to “hook” me as often as they used to.

I still enjoy a good game of course, but I think I’m still largely “gamed out” from when I was a kid.”

Being a normal teenager is not a crime or a…

“Medical condition. Before the self obsessed BabyBoomers started raising children the majority of young boys didn’t have A.D.D.. This is all just one more “What about me!” from the BabyBoomer generation. “My kids aren’t perfect! Fix them!” This is coming from the people who invented, “Turn on. Tune in. Drop out.” “Free love” and your classic 1960’s 1970’s do it if it feels good self absorbed generation. As my hero George Carlin put it, “From cocaine to rogain”. “”These are perfectly decent kids whose lives have been taken over by an addiction,” said Mr Bakker, a former drug addict. “Some have given up school so they can play games. They have no friends. They don’t speak to their parents.”” Giving up school? Normal. No friends? Normal. Who didn’t feel isolated in high school? Not speaking to parents? Normal. Sounds like the kids aren’t watching TV all hours of the day and night and the new technology is frightening mummy.”

Game Addiction?

“We used to call this neurosis. The actual neurotic behavior isn’t really all that important. What is important is addressing the underlying causes, which often have little or nothing to do with the resulting behavior. This guy obviously has a problem, but obsessive gaming is just the symptom. He could equally well be compulsively plucking his eyebrows or watching TV.”

Mmmm…

You’ll Disagree

No, really, you will.

BOONDOCK SAINTS SUCKED!

AHH!

Rantzor! Why does everyone think this movie is good? Even people with good taste in movies have fallen prey to this load of crap! I’m not alone in my feelings here; my brothers are with me on this. It’s insane. The straw that broke the matephorical camel’s back was Paul and Karen. Technically two straws. Shut that face of yours.

On track here. I could go on and on about how disgustingly self-righteous and vaguely blasphemous the movie was. It’s like X3, though; the movie sucks, but it appeals directly to 90% of the movie-watching populations, and that’s all that matters. It has the goods – violence, Irish accents (or in X3’s case, Hugh Jackman), and pseudo-reflective quotes involving God and guns. Heck, the movie has a freakin 20% on Rotten Tomatoes, this SAYS something! That’s not stopping them from making a sequel, though.

Life continues on in its general stride. I managed to get to Judo for the first time in two months, and I feel so utterly hardcore. No, really. I ran a mile (okay, maybe 3/4..) with my gi in tow (in a backpack, not wearing it) to Barton Hall, did that Judo thang, ran home, ate, ran another three miles, and here we are. Can you tell I feel like showing off? HAH! I can’t tell whether it’s the running I enjoy, or the running to techno. I’d do it more often if it weren’t for that, you know, muscle damage thing, being human and all. I feel great as is, though, I think I’m gonna try and do this a few times a day. It’s not as if I’ve got better things to be doing.

I suppose the only other piece of news is that my house will be entirely empty by Friday. Hayden, Ana, Jonathan, Mom, and Dad are all gonna be gone. Hayden and Ana back to El Paso, Jonathan to California, and Mom and Dad to….honestly, I’ve not a clue. I’ve never really been home alone for several (I believe I’m alone for three full days) days in a row before (never more than 2 full days), and I’m excited. No, I’m not holding a sexy party (queue Stewie clip), it’s just the thought of going out and buying my own food, and then cooking it, and then nobody else will eat it but me, and it’ll be up to me to stick it in the fridge. And when I wake up the next morning none will be gone, because no one else will be there to eat it. Ahem.

Hope you’re all enjoying teh summar. I sure am.

Good Times

It’s times like this that I absolutely love the internet. I knew the very second I saw Zidane flat-out own Materazzi that it would become an instantaneous meme, and it is! Not that this is a hard prediction to make, but it’s insanely fun to watch stuff like this evolve.

For those of you losers that didn’t watch the World Cup Final, Zidane, one of the best soccer players of our time, used his massive bald head and headbutted a notoriously retarded Italian player, Materazzi, in the chest. Materazzi is reknowned for being a general piece of crap, and in this instance, he most certainly groped Zidane’s nipple (and that’s about the most eloquent way I could put it), and rumor mills say Materazzi used a racial slur concerning Zidane’s sister.

Zidane probably lost the World Cup for France, seeing as the ensuing red card took him out of the final shootuout. Sheer morale and the loss of France’s greatest player could most certainly be attributed here, although whats-his-face may still have hit the crossbar. We’ll never know now, will we Zidane? I’m positive France would have won if it had gone to Sudden Death, especially based on how Italy was playing, even while Zidane was out.

The truly great thing here is the immortality Zidane has reached via the interwabs. YTMND is, of course, the first out of the gate with the hilarity here. One, Two, Three, Four, Five!

I shall update with new hilarity as it is found. Also, the videos of Zidane headbutting may become harder to find, some of the better ones are being removed for copyright infringement.