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Send in the CloneZ

Monday, February 17th, 2014
Photo Credit: TimeDoctor Dot Org

Photo Credit: TimeDoctor Dot Org

Is anyone else getting tired of the DayZ: Stand Alone copy-cat games that are appearing? It feels like every time I launch Steam I am berated with advertising for games that look a heck of a lot like the aforementioned. In particular, today we have Dead State and 7 Days to Die (in addition to DayZ) as some of the thirteen Featured Selections (Rust gets a pass but don’t look past other similar titles such as The Dead Linger, Nether, How to Survive, Project Zomboid, Castleminer Z, et al.)

If imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery the DayZ team should be pretty darn flattered. Now I do not pretend to know the development time frame for these other games (perhaps some have been around for some time), however, the fact that they are being marketed here and now in a manner similar to DayZ smacks of Johnny-come-lately cash-in.  The most famous case of this was in 2012 with The War Z (now titled Infestation: Survivor Stories,) a blatant ripoff of the then ARMA II Mod DayZ.

In some regard this cloning degrades a game that has not even been fully released yet. The competitors piggy-backing on not-fully-developed features and ideas takes away from the execution of DayZ and its potentiality. Why would a DayZ developer want to continue down a path already tread by an imitator? Or, for that matter, continue with an as yet unreleased idea that has been executed by a competitor, for fear that they (DayZ) would look like the clone? When every game coming down the pike is labeled with terms like crafting, survival, and scavenge we are not left with much but mimicry. Not to mention that these games are also all Early Release, as if this adds cachet.

DayZ does not have exclusive ownership on these terms but it has set the watermark through its beginnings as a Mod and now Alpha Stand Alone status and its future as a true example of ingenuity maybe stifled by lackluster competitors. As a dollar and cents example, the idea that one does not have the $29.99 for DayZ but does have the $19.99 for SurvivorX will erode the better product in terms of sales and user base in the long run is an all too true reality.

One of the great things about DayZ’s development is how open it has been in terms of garnering community feedback and showing use of features in development. I have not seen too many other games take this route and I am afraid that this refreshing transparency will be discouraged if other developers come in and loot their ideas. We are returned then to a development model of closed door secrecy and P.R. schemes of leaked screenshots to build momentum for games that are often poorly built and not out of the beta stage when they reach the consumer at $59.99.

I write as a fan of DayZ that thinks the better game is being besmirched by a lot of idea-stealing competition and that large game distribution channels such as Valve/Steam need to be mindful of promoting first class products and letting those other games first find their audience (in much the same way DayZ did) in ways that do not detract from the established brand. Let innovation, originality, and good game play win out.

Kali-ho!

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

Few things in this life are permanent.  Like a tattoo, however,  the online gaming software Kali, touts “life-time subscription[s]” (italics theirs) and thus, a form of permanence.

For those who started PC gaming relatively recently (sometime this decade), you may be unfamiliar with Kali. It can best be equated as a mid-90′s precursor of Xfire, however, it also added a unique element necessary for its times, network emulation.

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(Free) Box of Kotex Tampons-Super Plus (via Craigslist)

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Found tonight under the free section on Craigslist in Philadelphia:

“Unopened box of Kotex Super Plus tampons. They will be in a plastic bag hanging on the mailbox at 359 Richfield Road in Upper Darby. Don’t bother emailing, just come and get them. Post will be removed as soon as they’re gone.”

Castro v. Fericito

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

As of late, The Drudge Report has been featuring various stories about the United States’ burgeoning relationship with Cuba thanks to President B.H.O., his new regime, and their policies.

The funny thing, and the point of this post, is the photo that The Drudge has been tagging these various stories with is of a very peculiarly posed Castro.

The physical articulation in this photo immediately reminded me of Saturday Night Live player Fred Armisen and his character “Fericito.”

Fericito is described on Mr. Armisen’s wiki page as, “a Venezueluan nightclub comedian and host of ¡Show Biz Grande Explosion!”.

Here is my composite of the Caribbean and South American celebridades striking a very similar pose:

castrovfericito2

You know you are no longer the ‘Prince of Darkness’ when…

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Ozzy Osbourne’s latest appearance on the pop culture radar comes in the form of a commercial promoting Blizzard’s “World of Warcraft.”  In this advertisement, Mr. Osborne tells us that he is indeed the “Prince of Darkness,” at which point the elderly-Brit is transformed from a docile-mumbling and aged-hipster into the larger-than-life polygon Royalty of Doom and Gloom (it is him, the tinted glasses are a dead giveaway).

The reality is that the Ozzman stopped being the Magnate of Little-Light on March 5, 2002.  For that is the day that “The Osbournes” premiered and the curtain was pulled back on a former great showman.  From that premiere episode right up until the end of the reality series run in March of ’05, we learned that Ozzy is nothing more than a character of his stage persona and a creation of record lyric and promoter myth.

What we saw during the years the show was broadcast was a man who was nothing more than a famous and wealthy Jester of Dimness who was easily ignored until called upon -following the court’s (his home) pecking order he was on the bottom (after his wife Sharon, out of control children, house guests of his out of control children, and the heard of dogs.)  It is difficult to head bang away to “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” when you know that the perpetrator of this metal-driven-scowl is in reality, or currently anyway, nothing more than an over-drugged bird-biting sellout who did his time in the good ol’ Seventies, got bloated and almost killed his wife in the Eighties, sung about his Mama in the Nineties, and now in present-day has an embarrassment of a family and tremors worse than San Andreas.

“I never said, ‘Get the f***ing gun’.”  How does the former Purveyor of all things Ill-Lit go from suicide-inducing subliminal lyrics to suicide-inducing mumble-logue?  Lights, camera, reality-based-action is how.  This decade’s version of televised embarrassment (see variety shows of the Seventies) turned Black Sabbath and Ozzie Osbourne fans such as me into disgruntled bloggers looking to disassociate from their former idols before today’s Molly Cirus ilk find our spot of weakness and strike!

The downfall came swiftly after the sadness known as “The Osbournes” became a hit.  Things snowballed with a Super Bowl commercial for Pepsi, then the penultimate disgrace in a cameo for a fart-joke filled, was funny the first time around, sequel comedy (see Austin Powers:  The Spy Who Did Something We No Longer Found Funny.”)

So now, close to four years later, and with a tarnished crown, Mr. Osbourne is picking up the scepter by endorsing video games.  And it is not just World of Warcraft, Ozzy is also badassing it up and down your block in Guitar Hero (again, tinted glasses are a dead giveaway.)

This all brings us to the number one reason you know that you are no longer the ‘Prince of Darkness’…

…when you are whoring yourself for the űber-dork-playland known as W.o.W.*

*As in, “Wow, can my wife/agent/Power of Attorney for a now disabled rocker put me into any worse advertising nightmare than video games and another Sabbath reunion on this year’s Ozzfest?”

Satan laughing spreads his wings.

Needed: (hairy) game developers for exciting new project(s)

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

The 23rd scroll, 9th verse, of the ancient texts says:

Beware the beast man, for he is the devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him. Drive him back into his jungle lair: For he is the harbinger of death.

 

In the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey, a monkey with an idea for a new game franchise. So, tonight as I watched my second favorite (see below post) film, I realized that an opportunity for game development was staring me right in the face.

The film, if you have not guessed it, is the legendary Planet of the Apes and the idea is two-fold.

Firstly, I think that a Planet of the Apes Massive Multiplayer Game is just what the internet needs. This game will be the prime place for geeks, the obese, shut-ins, the handicapped, dystopians, and the general Comic Book Store Guys of the world to flex their ape-might against that irritating group known as humanity. The same folks who belittled us er people in High School and picked up all of the mute women (hereafter Nova’s) that were meant for us.

When you sign up, for a mere $40 a month, you too will have your choice of player classes including:

  • Chimpanzee: these are the intelligentsia, by varying degrees, all mimicking the five films, from physician to scientist, theologian, and young activist.
  • Gorilla: grunt, military, street cleaner, and orange-jumpsuit clad revolutionary.
  • The Scum Of Future Earth (sssh, don’t blow the ending) human (mute slave, talking slave, oppressor, and turtleneck-sporting liberal). Word of warning for human chars; watch out for the dreaded lobotomist!

Imagine varying game environments from muddy beaches, to straw huts, and the desolate concrete jungles of future-Los Angeles. Depending on which server you log onto, you will face new challenges based on one of the film environments.

You will encounter familiar faces from the movie as you play the game. Everyone from Cornelius to Dr. Zaius, Taylor, and the greatest of them all, General Urko will either aid-in, or stymie, your quest to be top dog (or ape).

Secondly, that been said, perhaps the M.M.O. arena is a bit too overdone. How about we go the Lego Planet of the Apes route? All of the classic film series are doing it (Star Wars, Batman, Indiana Jones), why not the second greatest (see below post) of them all?!? I love you Dr. Zaius!

Ikea Pax wardrobe-cum entertainment center

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Like much of the first worlds’ over-fed population, last year I went out and indulged in a flat-screen television. Consequently, like the rest of flat-screen T.V. buyers I found out that my old C.R.T.–based entertainment center was inadequate for the new wideness of L.C.D.

The temporary (over a year) solution was to simply put the L.C.D. television on top of the old outdated Ikea unit and fill the now empty square with miscellaneous D.V.D.’s and video games. Needless to say, this looked pretty ridiculous and the absurdity was only compounded by the bowing of the now top-heavy center.

With all of my loot blown on the T.V., I could not afford a fancy stand nor would any of these compact new flat-screen friendly entertainment centers fit all of my capitalist wares of component stereo, D.V.D./V.C.R. combo, C.D. player, cable box, record player, center channel speaker, video game systems, and gobs and gobs of media. What was I to do?

Well, inspired by ikeahacker.blogspot.com, I had to look no further than my Ikea Pax wardrobe. This 93” tall utilitarian behemoth is nothing more than shelves where I put my clothes. However, the idea came to me that it might also serve as a good entertainment center, just in need of a little hacking.

The Pax unit I purchased in 2006 was $111.28. This included the box itself and six shelves. I figured for that price I would have all of the entertainment center storage I needed plus I would undercut the price of a smaller (inadequate), however, T.V. specific unit by at least $60, according to what I had seen listed.

So I saved my pennies and took my measurements to make sure my 37” television would fit inside my, what happens to be, 39” wide wardrobe and I put caution and shelf strength to the wind and headed down to Ikea.

It turns out they have inflation in Sweden. In 2008 my aforementioned Pax configuration cost me $149.80. However, I was still beating the price of some of the smallest T.V. stands by a nice margin.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “this entertainment center idea is not a hack, it is a repurposed wardrobe!” However, you would be wrong because the load-bearing composite-board (the integral life force of all Ikea furniture) had to be drilled to make way for wires. These holes are very important as without them my little electronic boxes do not receive power or connectivity.

So, with my Dremel-esque (borrowed) tool, I took bit to flimsy composite and watched many, many particles of dust fly. My cuts were less than precise, however, I knew (read hoped) they would be largely concealed. I measured shelves’ distance by the screw hole (not to be confused with my drilled holes, these line the interior of the cabinet for shelf hanging purposes) for tight fit and maximum storage and up went my Ikea hacked Pax wardrobe-cum entertainment center.

Sitting here enjoying the completed project, I am very happy. It probably took way to long to finish (as I kept putting the shelf sinkers in screw holes that did not line up their pairings) but the completed unit is just what my little apartment needed. A towering faux antique wood stained monstrosity that screams “coach potato.” Shine on you Swedish diamond!

Star Wars fans are decadent and depraved

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

I have always considered myself a big fan of George Lucas’ Star Wars. Having watched all but the first release theatrically, and then having seen the re-releases and then prequels on the big screen, I feel that Star Wars holds a big place in my entertained idea of self. From birthday cakes, to Halloween costumes, common quotes amongst friends, to lists of greatest screen villains, the stories from a galaxy far, far away strike a chord with me. However, it was recently that I found out there exists another level of fan – the likes of which I do not even approach.

Sir, Duke of DorkWhile browsing the web, I came across a forum of Star Wars fans that cannot be rivaled. I sat and I read for literally hours the messages of a group of people who study every piece of minutia in Lucas’ alien galaxy. Their love is recreating these worlds and people, right here on earth, in the form of costume and prop. They study screen captures of each scene from the films to get every detail right. Forum threads (each containing double-digit pages of posts) record the back and forth of analysis and approximation to correct recreation. Hundred of hours are spent laboring and then broadcasting the achievements attained in recreating the Star Wars universe. Obsession is the name of the game.

Each forum is comprised of many threads of messages. Each thread is devoted to a certain aspect of the Film (character, weapon, make-up, piece of clothing.) Those that claim to be a part of the Vader community do nothing but study this character and his four film incarnations. They devote themselves to recreating his costume as the bounds of each films dictates. (In each Star Wars film in which Darth Vader appears, his costume has subtle variations due to budgeting and taste of Lucas and fellow creators.) So page after page of this thread is dedicated to a member’s recreation of Darth Vader as he appeared in The Empire Strikes Back. Other members weigh in on the photos that are uploaded by the re-creator. Accuracy is debated and checked. High definition screen captures are studied. This goes on until completion and then perhaps the work is shared as it is sold to other admirers in the form of casts of the newly created molds of chest boxes and helmet tusks.

I sat in amusement reading about those who put my once lofty levels of fandom to shame. I also laughed at the absurdity of it all. The literally hundreds of man-hours spent recreating the paltry few hours of film that actually portrayed this intergalactic escapism leads one to laugh at the silliness of it all.

Should one laugh? What gives me the right to heckle one man’s use of spare time over my own pursuits? Should that which society deems a more productive use of free time be held up against those of our aforementioned super-fans? Does working on one’s lawn, following a baseball team, or reading all of Hemingway’s prose amount to something of more worth than festooning your Vader helmet with correctly colored (film accurate) lenses?

Well, if we are to be moderate in all things, then yes, obsessively studying the fit of movie character’s armor should be criticized. However, in doing so, one should also realize the frivolity of one’s own desires and immoderate pastimes. A virtue reality check, if you will. Han shot first!

Caller I.D. Culture

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Since its popular inception, by some estimates about ten years ago, Caller I.D. (the ability to see the phone number that is calling you) has changed the way we communicate. This seemingly simple convenience has turned communication on its ear and transformed its legions of tacit adopters (Caller I.D. was once exclusively a landline pay service that now comes standard with most cell phones) into a bourgeoning generation of call screeners and selective recluses.

A friend recently started a new job that came equipped with the standard means of communication in phone and e-mail. He was reluctant to give out his new work contact information to family and friends as he feared this would lead to distraction. They had his cell phone number or any of the myriad of personal e-mail addresses should they choose to contact him. The problem surfaced a few weeks into the new job as he would use the office phone to place calls to friends as reception for his cell was not too good in the office or when his cell minutes were low. It seemed that relations, not recognizing buddies’ number on their Caller I.D. chose to ignore his calls at a frequent rate.

At my own home were up until recently we had Caller I.D. block (the evil practice of disabling those receiving your calls from knowing the number from which they originate) people would often not answer as they did not know who is calling. With some friends, they had another phone company provided service that would automatically not receive calls from locations that did broadcast their numbers. This created either a mutually destructive phone call with neither party getting through or the act of having the block disabled on one end or the other albeit temporarily until the phone is dialed again. Some friends knew it was us calling by the fact that their Caller I.D. read Restricted. My own brother called me from a restricted phone the other day (not his usual M.O.). I ignored him unknowingly.

This all leads me to the fact that we are now identified by the ring tones and pictures/icons/avatars or in the most basic case, digits that appear on our friends and families’ phones marked by Caller I.D. We are all marked, tagged, and identified in a matter of rings and just as quickly decided upon by that calls receiver if we are destined for voicemail. The former binary configuration of telephone operation is gone. We no longer answer a ringing phone based on our desire to communicate damning the fact that it could be a telemarketer and not my friend with the baseball tickets for tonight’s game. No, we are now, thanks to Caller I.D., thrust into the more complex game of do I or do I not want to interact with this person.

The further implication is one that has been a hurdle for many forms of burgeoning technology, that is, does this cast us off more from society and interaction. Can what is basically a phone utility actually breakdown the forms of communication? Some say it can and it does as users of Caller I.D. that are perhaps depressed or desiring isolation (the latter being not always a bad thing) cut themselves off further.

So the next time you find yourself calling from an alien number or up against a prompt telling you to leave a message after a paltry three or four rings, the chances are you have been I.D.’d and discarded for later. Welcome to the world of Caller I.D. culture. Maybe you should have tried text messaging your sentiment instead?