Thursday, April 17, 2014

Magna Kiwi v0.1

This is the first draft of the rules and guidelines of Pristine Kiwi.

Pristine Kiwi - A Post-Apocalypse Supersafe Holiday Club

Magna Kiwi

1. Pristine Kiwi is a loose community of professional amateurs who try to make the best of what remains of their shattered lives in once glorious nation state of Chernarus;

2. Membership is currently invite only (please refer to the Membership Appendix for details);

3. There is no strict moral agenda, ie any non-member (Hereinafter referred to as a Richard) is a valid target for utlra violence, however:
    a. hate speech (including but not limited to: racism, sexism, nationalism, ableism and ageism), proselytizing, practice of the dark arts, belief in politicians, too much love for sports, unironic attitude towards conspiracy theories, unironic use of hashtags or playing to win constitutes sufficient grounds for excommunication;
    b. use of third party software to gain edge over other players or "hacking" in any other manner or the use of the in-game bugs and exploits to gain the said advantage constitutes sufficient grounds for excommunication;
    c. intentional murder of club members constitutes sufficient grounds for excommunication. Repeated friendly fire incidents will be investigated with the final judgement on the matter residing in the hands of the slain member. All conflicts between the club members that cannot be resolved through verbal means, shall be resolved through a Hollywood style quick-draw gunslinger duels (please refer to the Duel Appendix for details);

4. Every member is entitled to request backup in an event of finding themselves surrounded or outnumbered by hostile Richards or when discovering a hostile Richard in possession of a particularly rare item. When a backup request is issued (please refer to the Backup Request Appendix for details) all available members are obliged to spawn into the server and provide support as needed;

5. If one of the members discovers a pristine kiwi, it must be brought to the member currently serving as the The Mother Of Kiwi. If The Mother Of Kiwi is already in possession of a pristine kiwi, it must be offered to another member as a token of friendship. The recipient shall proceed to consume the pristine kiwi immediately with great appreciation. A pristine kiwi is the most valuable item we can offer each other. Rejecting an offer of pristine kiwi constitutes sufficient grounds for a duel. If the member who discovered a pristine kiwi is found to have consumed it themselves, they will be shot on sight and excommunicated.

6. The Mother Of Kiwi is a temporary and rotating position of great honour. This post is assigned by The Shadow Council Of Kiwi. While serving as the The Mother Of Kiwi, that member will only be referred to as Mother, relinquishing all other in-world or out-world cognomens or appellatives. Mother must always carry a pristine kiwi and protect it with their life. Other members must always protect Mother. If Mother dies next to you while you're still breathing, it is as if you had failed a thousand times. Sacrificing your life for Mother is a great honour. If Mother loses their pristine kiwi through a non-fatal accident, they immediately lose their position and shall never be The Mother Of Kiwi ever again. One cannot decline when offered the position of The Mother Of Kiwi;

7. We do not speak of The Shadow Council Of Kiwi;

8. In order to distinguish ourselves from the Richards of this world, we shall follow the Pristine Kiwi Dress Code of no military attire. Military attire shall be defined as:
    a. any items of clothing with a camouflage pattern;
    b. any tactical vests;
    c. any ballistic helmets;
    d. any military style boots (combat, jungle, etc.);

9. We aspire to be excellent to each other under all circumstances and at all times;

10. The contents of Manga Kiwi may be changed without any notice by the The Shadow Council Of Kiwi as The Council sees fit;

11. We do not speak of The Shadow Council Of Kiwi.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Wabi-sabi of Battlefield 4

I was playing BF4 in Conquest Large mode on Golmud Railway when I came across a beautiful emergent scene. I was heading in my buggy from Point Bravo to Point Delta when the smoke left by the recent enemy artillery strike cleared and right there in front of me, in the middle of the narrow pockmarked road, between the rows of war-torn houses stood a lonely white plastic lawn chair. It was exactly the one that comes to your mind when you think of a plastic lawn chair. It stood in the centre of the road as if someone has just been sitting there, observing the destruction around them, calmly, without a hint of haste, perhaps even enjoying the dust and smoke, not judging, only collecting data. They got up and left just before I turned the corner. Maybe their job was done or maybe the chair just stood their by itself having no need in anyone to occupy it, being complete and perfect in itself. And it was beautiful because it was random and it was random because it was beautiful because it was most mundane and most unusual at the same time.

I'm quite sure no one else saw it and and very soon it wouldn't be there any more. But that was ok. Somehow I didn't even feel too bad about probably getting killed by the helicopter looming in the air in front of me. Everything would be ok.

Unfortunately, I wasn't quick enough to either take a screenshot or hit the brakes before I smashed straight into the lonely white plastic lawn chair.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ken Levine: Maker Of Games, Sayer Of Things

Look, before I say anything else, I want to make it clear that I have enjoyed playing several games that Ken had worked on, System Shock 2 and BioShock being the most prominent examples. Whatever good stuff in those games was Ken's fault - well done! As a gamer, I'm very grateful.


Here's an excerpt from the interview he gave to Rock Paper Shotgun:

RPS: Just touching on that idea of unreliable narration that Bioshock dwells on – games generally tend to be quite literal, don’t they? I’m trying to find the best way to express this, but I was thinking about how books or movies are so often tricks, or illusions, or sleight of hand, whereas games are so often just what they appear to be. Are you trying to avoid being over-literal in that way? Whether or not you regard the Bioshock games as successful, are they basically exploring the idea of making games a little less as they seem?

I can only boast of a tentative idea of what Jim is asking here - he is probably referring to how most games are literal rather then literary, you get what you see, no hidden meanings, no twists, no turns, no character development beyond levelling up and upgrades. Most games are CODMW2 SP rather then Fallout 2. But my apologies ladies and gentlemen, Imma let Ken here answer the question.

Levine: I have this friend from a D&D group in high school, he’s a writer named Andrew Mayer, and after we had both seen Inception he made a really interesting point about the ending. We were talking about that final scene where the camera cuts off before the spinning top either falls or doesn’t, and that leads the audience to wonder if DiCaprio’s in the real world or not in the real world… And Andrew says to me: “No, he’s in a movie.”


And I...

Hold up Ken. Hold up. Let me catch my breath here. You truthed me so hard, dog, I can't walk straight no more.

And I thought...

Wait up, wait up. Whew. What an emotional roller coaster! 

And I thought tha...

Just one more second. Let me interject here and express my gratitude that you and Andrew have finally solved the age old problem of "where exactly is DiCaprio". I think I speak for every citizen of the world, I speak from the bottom of my heart, my good Sirs, we can never repay you. Never! Please, continue.

And I thought that was really interesting.

I don’t know if that’s what the authorial intent of that scene was, but it’s interesting to notice that DiCaprio’s character is never either in the real world or in the Inception world, he’s in a movie.

Whoa! Here it is again!

If you step back from it, neither is more or less real than the other. But on an emotional level that’s not true for us, we think that the movie’s real world is more real than the dream world. Some things in fiction are more true to us than other things. In Bioshock Jack’s perception about himself is no more or less real once Andrew Ryan told him the truth about himself, because it’s all a lie. It’s all fiction. Except it’s not.

We just got schooled, son! Literature 101 right there. But wait, there's more. And it gets better.

I love that stuff. I have a bit of the post-modernist bent to me. I grew up loving Tom Stoppard, The Manchurian Candidate, Fight Club, Twelve Monkeys, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind… you know, stuff like that where the form itself is part of the conversation, where identity is a question, where the form itself is a question. Some people are capable of doing that really elegantly, and I’ve always enjoyed that kind of stuff, because it’s not about twists per se, but about your perception of the experience and what you take from that.

:sigh: See, I think this is what you get when you let your kids study in liberal arts colleges. They will reduce the definition of post-modernism to plot twists. Ken studied drama back in the day and apparently wrote couple of screenplays which leads me to believe that he is either dumbing it down for us, so that we, the subhuman readership of RPS, will maybe understand the basic concept of literature or he actually thinks that he has a "post-modernist bent" that sets him apart from people who don't have that... bent.

I recently started paying more attention to people who are creative leads or design leads in different game developing companies and it sometimes seems like I'm reading interviews with the same guy. He has many incarnations but they all sound alike and say similar things. Above all, all his versions have the same aura, same air of "I am delivering a very interesting and valuable information instead of answering your question." And it's not, the information is not valuable. It's high school level stuff for $100K a year. I felt the same about Harvey Smith, most of whose tweets are about his meals, and I felt the same about Jake Solomon, who seems like a very good-natured guy who loves his family very much. They all seem to be nice, clean-cut, probably hard working, moderately capable managers. I wish game rags would spend more time on crazy/deranged/obsessed lower level designers and writers, people who actually make art assets for their games and don't say things like "I have a bit of the post-modernist bent".

Or maybe it's me and everything is just fine. Oh yeah, Ken, sorry about that, please finish your thought.

That’s why I love my friend’s observation about Inception, because there’s no more validity to one than the other. There is no spoon, right?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why Chivalry Is Better Than War Of The Roses

Here are five reasons why Chiv is better than WotR.

1) Chiv makes the arrow in the knee meme obsolete.

Talk about composure in a high speed chase.
 2) Everyone in the game is very friendly.

Just wave back and keep walking.

3) No health and safety red tape to stifle your creativity.

[Almost wrote a penis joke here]. 

4) If you're ever bored (which is doubtful), you can deconstruct yourself by pressing F10.

[Almost wrote a Derrida joke here]. 

5) You're never alone. The omniscient Nipple In The Sky is always watching your every move. And judging you.

I kid you not, this is a permanent feature of every map. 

May your blunt weapon of choice be swifter than that of your opponents who are of dubious heritage and questionable social standing!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Jake? Jake?? JAAAAKEEEEE????

So this is why there are no patches for XCOM coming up.

With XCOM's release in his wake, Solomon is getting used to the slower pace in life. "It's weird when you're a developer, because oddly everything ends when the game comes out. You work like crazy, the game launches and then everything just stops. I'm mostly just sitting on my ass."

Well that's just swell. I guess no one's trying to fix the bugs then, eh? Nice.

Are you working on TFTD?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Counting Counts

Had an amazing victory in XCOM: Enemy Unknown multiplayer. It was the kind of overcoming of odds that dreams are made of, the kind that lifts video games from the depth of misunderstanding and stereotypes, through the dark woods of annoying FPS players, to the state of an art form. I was not recording the game at the time nor have I made any screenshots so here's the low-tech report of what happened.

I was fielding a five member team - two snipers (hunters - main feature is shooting after moving) with scopes, two assaults (scouts - only run and gun) with stims and a sectoid named Kenny for obvious reasons. Snipers had laser sniper rifles and assaults had scatter laser. Kenny was wielding a plasma pistol and a lot of guts.

My near bus location meant lower ground and tougher choices. I was to go second. I went easy. Move everyone to the edge of their blue and overwatch. The snipers go left to the flowerbeds and the assaults hide behind the bus. Kenny goes boldly forward, fearless and ever watchful.
Enemy turn - nothing happens.

More careful movement on my side - to the blue and overwatch. The assaults are now in high cover along the right side of the bus. I briefly contemplate stimming them up but dismiss the idea for the fear of wasting the precious drugs on a timid and absentee enemy troops. Of course, I quickly regret it.

Enemy turn - a cyberdisc floats over from behind the statue. Kenny, crouching behind the park bench, takes a reaction shot and hits for 4 damage. As I think "well, Kenny's dead", the disc notices my snipers in the back and ignoring the dauntless sectoid takes one of them out. Blood, guts, broken dreams, a widow at home, kids without a father. But the disc is just on the other side of the bus, almost directly above Kenny. The assaults can probably reach him without as much as looking in the direction of run and gun. You will be avenged, sniper with random name, you will be avenged! That's when two medic looking troops, one in titan armour, show up. My assaults miss their reaction shots, the enemy troops are too far away for their scatter lasers. The medic with plasma rifle misses (praise be to The Holy RNG!) and the one with light plasma lands a 6 damage on rehab-clean and fragile body of my assault. Curse the unlucky stars!

The remaining sniper takes a headshot (what?) on the cyberdisc for the massive critical damage that leaves it with 2 bars. Kenny misses on cyber. That's ok, everything is still manageable. The wounded assault runs into the bus and does drugs behind the high cover of the driver's seat partition. The healthy soldier moves a couple of steps down the side of the bus to another high cover spot and also does drugs.

Enemy turn - the cyberdisc turns another sniper into a corpse. Another life in shatters. More blood becoming dust. The enemy rejoice. The medic with the plasma rifle and titan armour dashes to the front of the bus. The other one takes a shot at Kenny and misses. "Shot wide!" she must be reporting to her handlers.

Kenny is as calm as ever. The kamikaze scout knows the price of victory better then any of his human partners. What do they know. They don't hear other people's dreams at night when all they want is to fall asleep. His psychic abilities may not be as good as those of the sectoid commander but he can read anyone's emotions like the first giant letters on the optician's chart. He knows about the resentment his colleagues sometimes feel towards him, he knows about the unease his otherness brings into every room he enters. He would rather not know but it's not his fault that humans spill out their brainwaves like so much diarrhoea. But more than anything, above anything, Kenny knows loyalty. He takes down the hovering cyberdisc - explosion rocks the Boulevard.

The healthy assault goes into run and gun and runs to the other side of the map as far as he can go, which is right behind the other enemy medic. The shot isn't critical, the medic lives to take revenge. The wounded but no less drugged up assault runs down to the edge of the bus and takes a shot at the titan. 5 damage, hardly enough for anything. Things are not going our way. Drugs don't fail us now! But they do. Kind of.

Enemy turn - the titan soldier moves behind the wounded assault and pumps his body full of plasma. Stims cannot save him against a weapon so powerful with only 4 health remaining. Hopefully he dies without feeling any pain. As his eyes close for the last time I lose sight of the titan. The other medic does 3 damage on the ex-healthy assault and the turn is ours.

My remaining assault takes out the weaker medic. Kenny stays put and goes into overwatch.

Enemy turn - the titan shows his face at the corner of the bus, and takes a shot at Kenny, misses.

"That's bullshit! I had 87%," writes the enemy in the chat.

Kenny suppresses and the assault dashes to the front of the police car, closer to the titan. 7 health remaining and jonesing for the fix that is not going to come.

Enemy turn - to shake off the aim penalty, the titan moves to the other side of the same car that my assault is using for cover. Kenny misses his suppression shot but the titan doesn't. Yellow alien blood everywhere and Kenny goes down in history as the only sectoid with balls.

Wounded and all out of drugs, the lone assault moves up to the enemy, takes a shot and lands another 5. The titan lives with more than enough health to potentially kill my assault twice. With a gun that big at that distance it would be very easy to send him flying in bloody pieces to the same tarmac that his ex-team mates are slowly but surely rotting on. It would hardly take more than pulling of the stupid trigger and releasing of the stupid plasma onto the stupid flesh. But there is something that I know that he only now may be realising. I've been counting, you see. And that last shot that took out Kenny, that was shot number 4. That gun is emptier than the heart of a sectopod. He only brought along a normal pistol, so that's not an option. He will reposition as far as he can and reload.

Enemy move - and so he does. Fully loaded behind the adjacent car but no overwatch to protect him.

I run and gun the assault right next to him. Two of them crouching behind the same car like two kids hiding from grown-ups. My kid has only enough energy for one shot in his scatter laser and only a critical hit will do. 5 or 6 of damage will leave him flanked and without ammo against certain death. He raises his gun at the face of the titan. This is for you Kenny.

Monday, October 22, 2012

From Nigeria to Japan, With Love

It seems like it was only yesterday that I received my last communication from His Majesty The Nigerian Prince. Today I get this message (posted below verbatim). Is there a pretender to the Throne? Surely, this means war!

I am sorry to encroach into your privacy in this manner, I found you listed in the Trade Centre Chambers of Commerce directory here in Japan, I find it pleasurable to offer you my partnership in business, I only pray at this time that your address is still valid. I want to solicit your attention to receive cash on my behalf. The purpose of my contacting you is because my status would not permit me to do this alone.Respond If interested with Your full*names,Age,and*Location.

This is one of the image results you get if you search for Hidekazu:

Is that the right way to hold the sword?
Seems like the right one.