Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Warning, Politics Inside: Seeds of Discontent

The United States of America is facing a serious crisis, as more people are becoming dissatisfied with the workings of their government. The current administration, as well as holdovers in other branches of government, seem to have lost sight of a very simple fact: The government of this country serves at the sufferance of the people; meant to serve the best interests of the people.

Every nation and every government faces problems like this many times in their history. Some are destroyed by it, others fare better. The current problem however is a very interesting one, as it is a conflict of interest between the people themselves and the 'ruling class' of politicians that are supposed to be our chief servants.

More and more the politicians of the country are passing laws and making deals that favor themselves, their allies and close friends at the expense of the common man. This is a truly unacceptable situation. In theory this kind of problem is meant to be self correcting: If you don't like your representative or senator (or governor, president, etc.), choose someone else when an election rolls around!

And herein lies the problem. Even as the information age continues to advance and information becomes more readily available and accessible, it seems a lot of folk are very ignorant (or have bad information) about very important issues. Compounding the problem is the matter of belief: Some issues have taken up a religious significance (the environment, etc.) where certain folk have chosen the path of self-delusion, adhering to what they believe and damn the truth.

The mishandling of the budget and the economy are only some of the sins of the current and recent governments. Frankly I find much of what is occurring to be morally reprehensible. Unless the situation begins to remedy itself, I fear our country may face a revolution in its future. All of the warning signs are present, for those who care to look. I only pray that an in-system solution is found before the people are forced to take their country back in order to free themselves from a growing tyranny.

My advice to the lay citizen of the country: Educate yourself on the issues that face us. Know your rights and express your voice in a suitable fashion. The system can be made to work for us again, but it will be difficult. Violence is the last refuge of the truly desperate and pray that we do not reach that stage.

Twilight Vampires are Mermaids


I saw the recent Pirates of the Caribbean movie a few weeks ago. Loved it, but this post is not a review of On Stranger Tides. Rather, after seeing the Mermaids as presented in that movie, I had a revelation: The Sparkle Vampires in the Twilight movies are not really vampires they are mermaids (and mer-men).

Logic: The Twilight Vampire sparkle in light (and sunlight). This sparkle is a holdover from their ancestral roots when more of their bodies were covered by scales. Real Vampires are typically harmed by sunlight; only few Vampires should be immune or resistant, not all of them. Drinking blood? A substitution for actually feeding on the flesh of creatures (humans, etc.) to try and hide their nature more. Naturally the actual origin of their species was lost ages ago as they became what they are. Fangs? Check. Supernatural abilities? Check. Perfect match.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Terraria: First Impressions

Be advised, this post reflects my own experiences with Terraria during the first 5-10 hours or so of gameplay. Your own experience may differ, consider yourself warned.

This review will be divided into several key sections, covering aspects like the controls, gameplay and so forth. In each section I will also include a subsection defining what I liked, didn't like and what I think could be improved about that aspect of the game. Bear in mind that these are my opinions on the matter and they may change over time as I experience more of the game.

Player Controls

I have been playing Terraria with a keyboard and mouse. I have not yet tried hooking up a game controller, or taken a look (yet) to see if it is possible. Basic movement should be familiar to most folks, as Terraria uses a variation of WASD + the Space Bar to jump. The Escape key brings up the inventory window, which also provides the crafting interface.

Selection of which equipped item to use (or what item to craft) is done via mouse-wheel scrolling.

What I Liked: The controls were very easy to learn through trial and error. Movement, facing and use of tools were very use via the mouse.

What I Hated: I was not happy with the default speed and direction of scrolling to switch between items. The scroll direction for moving through the crafting interface (or equipment interface) can take a while. At least two deaths of my character were the result of not being able to scroll my equipment interface over to a Potion or some other useful item in time.

What Needs Improvement: Mouse wheel scroll speed needs to be adjustable. The direction of the scroll also needs to be configurable as an option as well. Some kind of hotkey selection system should likely exist for quickly changing which piece of equipment is in use.

General Gameplay

Aside from movement itself, digging/mining is likely to be one of the top activities in terms of time expended. Combat comes very close at times, depending on location and the current spawn rate. The first hour or two of gameplay are devoted to acquiring the basic necessities of survival: Shelter, light and basic minerals. Once that period is past it is easier to venture further afield to fight more monsters and find more useful components.

What I Liked: The exploration aspect of the game is pretty nice. Movement over some parts of terrain are very difficult prior to acquiring the Cloud in a Bottle or Grappling Hook items. The pace of combat seems about right during the early potions of the game. Even as one gets better items, the threat posed by monsters does not decrease too much as one progresses from no gear to gold equipment. While some creatures merely became annoyances, they could not be safely ignored.

What I Hated: Unusual resource scarcity. Wood, a renewable resource, takes a very long time to regenerate. I very quickly exhausted almost all of the harvestable wood on the surface of my map. Planted acorns often seemed to not grow at all, or which grew in a sporadic fashion with no regard for when the saplings were planted. Hooks from Skeletons also seemed to be unusually rare, after killing well over fifty of them only a single hook has dropped.

What Needs Improvement: Resource and mineral dispersion likely needs another look. So far I have encountered Iron as the most commonly found resource, even more so than Copper. One would expect the appearance of Gold or Silver (the more valuable metals) to increase the deeper you go, but this does not seem to be the case in my experience thus far.


There is a decent variety in crafting in the initial game. Aside from building the walls of a house, there is a decent initial list of furniture, equipment, accessories and consumables that can be made.

What I Liked: The initial variety of items, materials needed and methods of crafting are all very good ones. It felt very empowering to be making most of my own equipment, rather than just finding everything I was using.

What I Hated: The seeming necessity of an out-of-game wiki or similar source for crafting recipes. With all the different materials and potential combinations, some kind of in-game helper tool or utility would be handy.

What Needs Improvement: More recipes! There is a lot of room for improvement here. I was shocked, as an example, to learn that an Obsidian Skull (well and blocks too of course) was the only thing I could make out of Obsidian. I was hoping for Obsidian Armor or some other nifty tool or accessory (or furniture). More combinations need to exist for the materials already present.


As you build additional rooms and structures, various types of NPCs can appear and take up residence. These NPCs are, thus far, of the mercantile sort, selling various goods or services to the player for cash.

What I Liked: The initial set of NPCs that one can attract are a decent bunch. The requirements for the first few (Nurse, Merchant, Demolitionist) are very straightforward and easy to accomplish.

What I Hated: My NPCs keep wandering around and opening my doors! Don't you know there are Zombies out there!

What Needs Improvement: Aside from some sanity checking to prevent NPCs from letting Zombies and other monster into the house of course. Some additional variety in the goods and services provided my the existing NPCs would be nice. The Nurse could sell bandages or do more than just heal for cash. Additional variety in the basic goods the standard Merchant could offer would be nice as well. I would also like to see new NPC types, including some kind of guard or soldier who can help defend the settlement would be very welcome.

The Eye of Cthulhu

So far I have not, intentionally, tried to summon this boss. Howver every other night (or every third night) he spawns on his own to attack. The only defensive/preventative measure is to remain underground. I am not certain if this is a bug, but it seems very odd that the attack rate/spawning of this boss is so high.


I really like Terraria thus far. It is a game more than worth the asking price I think. Despite the very few issues I have had with the game, I intend to keep playing. As this game has a lot of potential for additions and improvement, I am hoping that the development continues for a longtime after launch. The initial showing of Terraria has a lot of promise and I look forward to enjoying this game for a long while yet.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Terraria: Coming to Steam on Monday May 16th

Barring any difficulties, it looks like Terraria will make its retail debut on Monday May 16th. So much for 'sometime in June', neh? Hopefully this is not a rushed release but rather a happy coincidence. Lacking any additional information, I would guess that the Steam integration and other backend necessities (legal,, contracts, etc.) have all been concluded a bit faster than initially suspected.

The launch price for Terraria has been stated as 9.99$ USD. However it has also been mentioned, on the Terrarria IRC channel, that this price may go up after a while. As of this blog entry no information is yet known on the pricing for other regions, or what the full price after the initial launch sale will be. It is hoped that a reasonable price will be set for each region that Terraria will be available in.

Looking forward to Monday!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My first AMV: Vampire Hunter D: Roads

I have always wanted to create an AMV, having seen so many good ones over the years. As I am finally getting around to learning how to utilize video editing tools, I decided to practice what I had learned so far and created this piece, my very first AMV. The footage I chose to utilize is from the very end of the 1985 Vampire Hunter D movie with audio from the 1977 Hobbit soundtrack (Roads, Instrumental version).

While I am very fond of the original music that plays during the selected scenes, this song has long run through my head when I think of folk setting out on a great journey. I may use the ending music from VHD for another AMV if I can think of the appropriate footage to splice in with it.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Thor Movie: More thunder-god please!

I loved the Thor movie. My only real complaint with the film is that it was an origin story movie and thus subject to the mandatory de-powering arc of the plot. The best parts of the film were those when Thor was actually still endowed with his abilities IMO; although the action scene where he attempted to retake his hammer was very well done.

This is one of those movies where I am really looking forward to a sequel. Alas the next appearance of Thor will be in the Avengers movie, rather than another tale of Thor himself out in the greater multiverse.

I loved the special effect sequences, as well as the whole look and feel of Asgard. Wonderful work there. I would dearly love to see more movies like this that have supernatural or mythical characters, that are set in realms other than Earth.

Dylan Dog Movie Mini-Review

For starters I should mention that I have never read any of the Dylan Dog comics... nor had I ever heard of the comic series prior to seeing a trailer for the movie. Heck it as by sheer accident that I learned of the movie itself actually.

The first time I saw any information about the movie was due to a floor-stand advertisement for the film at a local theater. Prior to that I am not sure I had even seen a trailer for the film. After a few weeks going by, I finally decided to look up information on the movie (as it was already out by then) and found the trailer for the film to be rather enjoyable.

To me the trailer was reminiscent of a more comical version of something like Anita Blake. The trailer looked cool enough to decide to see the movie; however I did a little research about the film beforehand. Much to my surprise I discovered that it was based on a very popular series of comics that have sold well across the pond.

As for the movie itself, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Being generally unfamiliar with the source material I found it to be a rather interesting take on undead and other creatures living among humans. A shame the movie was not advertised a bit more, it could have drawn more folk to the theaters.

My biggest complaint about the film, aside from lack of advertising, is that it felt like a very amateur project. Sure the movie was good and enjoyable, but it did not feel like something that was worthy of putting up on the big screen; had a feel of something more suitable for a direct to DVD release or a TV movie.

The ending of the movie could have used some work. It felt rushed.