Black Friday, the biggest shopping

Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year…and I predict it will be one of the worst, financially, in a decade, at least. Oh, people may go out…but they will not buy as much, and with the steep discounts, the total profit is going to be way down.
Sad. It would have been bad enough, but 9-11 pushed it over the edge.
I’ve started to work on actually writing Marcus’ Murder Mystery.

Saw the Harry Potter movie

Saw the Harry Potter movie today.
I made the mistake, as dear Bonnie puts it, of reading the book first…and so I was disappointed in some spots by the movie…but it wasn’t a severe disappointment…far from it! I loved the movie, but do not give it “timeless classic” status. Kids will not be watching this movie endlessly for the next 50 years like, say the Wizard of Oz or Willy Wonka or Star Wars…but it will do very well, very well indeed.
Casting was very good. Alan Rickman IS Professor Snape, suitably malevolent looking for the part. The young actors and actress playing Harry, Ron and Hermione do a generally good job. We don’t see enough of Dumbledore or McGongall to really form a good opinion, in my opinion. The actor playing Hagrid did a good job, though.
Special effects and sets were very well done. I wish they might have contrasted the muggles world with the wizard’s world a little more forcefully, but a lot of the set pieces worked well…the Alley, Gringotts, and of course, Hogwarts itself. Quidditch came out rather well…it could not have been filmed 5 years ago, I am certain, and maintain its believeability. It does look a little more chaotic than in the book, however…a lot less clear on the rules.
Overall, out of five popcorn kernels, I give it four.

Been very busy the last

Been very busy the last few days with work, and such. The virus is all gone, and I am completely back to normal. In game news, the Festival of the Unicorn comes closer and closer, and Bridgette’s character is partially responsible for a surprise that will happen at the Ball. I hope she enjoys the situation, too.
Marcus’ story is just about jelled and ready for writing.

Stomach Virus! An intestinal tract

Stomach Virus!
An intestinal tract ailment of some sort has knocked me on my derriere the last couple of days. I got it from my brother, who got it from his girlfriend and her mother. Fortunately my little nephew, who just might be the “carrier” that gave it to Lana and her mother, did not get it himself.
Boy, this bug is a nasty one. My vomit was actually BLACK with crap. It was considerably unpleasant to have it coming out of both ends, and to be sleepless while tossing and turning with intestines turned into Gordian knots.
I’m feeling somewhat better now.

Another quiet weekend. NOBILIS is

Another quiet weekend.
NOBILIS is being pushed back to January, or even more likely, February. Arrgh! The closer we get to the publication date, the faster it recedes…sort of like a perverse Zeno’s Achilles and the Tortoise paradox. Or the speed of light.
However, the other day I picked up AGONE. You can tell that its a translation (from
France), but its very interesting thus far. Mythic, Epic fantasy. Baroque. The artwork in the book definitely is keeping in theme. The meat of the book is not bad thus far, although there are holes (as always). The character generation system is sort of like White Wolf. No dice during character creation, but d10’s for skills and such. I’m usually more interested in milieus, concepts and so forth than rules. Harmundia (the name of the game world) would make an interesting shadow for Amber. The reason why I picked up AGONE was that I had heard about it on the Nobilis list sometime back (and someone mentioned it would be an interesting world on Ygg). I had not seen it in a store until the other day when I saw it in the Compleat Strategist. I bought it on the spot. I shall miss the Strategist when I move west…there is really no other store like it in physical reality. Of course with the internet, its not so bad as it was, say, ten years ago, when options to buy RPG stuff was really limited and I could see people making long trips to stores like the CS. Now, its a click to Wizard’s Attic or any number of places.
Still, browsing a store has its merits.
I did a graphic for SB which represents the schedule of events in the “Festival of the Unicorn”. I might put it online once more players get into the day.

I’ve hit a new time

I’ve hit a new time sink, and its name is Civilization III. So I thought that I would give it a review here (and probably
in email to friends). As a fan of Civilization, Civ II, Alpha Centauri (and Alien Crossfire), I definitely looked forward
to this third generation effort by Sid Meier and his friends.
With the game CD came a nice and thick manual, but no tech tree chart like in the previous games. Maybe they decided to only have it for the
“limited edition?” A shame if that was their motivation, and a shame if I simply got gyped. Install of the game was pretty easy and it has a
700 MB footprint.
Opening screens are prettier but much the same. The usual sort of options (Create world, quick start, etc.). There is a “tutorial” but its pretty lame–it just
sets it to the easiest level and turns the tutorial tips on.
The choices for creating a world are pretty much the same as in the past…type of continent, size of world, the age of the Earth are all things which are in previous editions. The big change which they borrowed from the Alpha Centauri series is the nations you lead. In the past, it really didn’t make too much of a difference (just a couple of small changes with the starting techs and not much else). In Civ III, there are 16 nations, and each of them has two characteristics (out of six) which determine the starting techs, but also determine other specific advantages. The Romans, for example, are COMMERCIAL and MILITARISTIC….which means they start with Alphabet, and Warrior Code. Babylon, which is RELIGIOUS and SCIENTIFIC, get Ceremonial Burial and Bronze working. COMMERICAL civilizations get extra commerce and lower corruption. RELIGIOUS civilizations get less anarchy and cheaper temples and cathedrals.
Each nation also has a special unit only they can build, which replaces one of the units in the normal tech tree. Using the examples above, the Romans get their feared Legionaries (instead of Swordsmen)…and Babylon gets an improved Archer called the Bowman. While most of these special units are gotten early, a couple of nations have to wait until late…Germans get Panzers instead of Tanks, and Britain gets Man-O-Wars instead of Frigates.
There is an option for turning off the advantages, though, if you don’t like them. I am gathering already that there are possibly problems with the balancing, since in the Readme, a couple of civilizations changed their civilization strengths from the manual.
The gameplay itself is much like the earlier Civilization series games, but with some changes. First and foremost is something taken from the Alpha Centauri series, and that is the splitting up of the duties of the old Settlers from Civ I and II. In this game, just like Alpha Centauri, there are units which build cities (Settlers) and units which build irrigation, roads and such. These are workers. Having played a lot of Alpha Centauri, I was able to quickly adapt to this.
Barbarians have changed, too…now instead of them just popping out of nowhere, randomly, they come from specific villages that you can plunder (no more barbarian chiefs!).
Another change is technology. Now, the tech tree is divided into three eras, much like Age of Wonders. You cannot research techs in the Middle Ages until you have most of the Ancient ones. This defeats the “rush to Invention” that I employed to good effect in many Civ games. Some of the Wonders are new, some are gone, and there are now also some “small wonders”–wonders any civilization can build one of. For example, the “Forbidden Palace” acts as a second Palace for purposes of the “Center” of ones civilization for happiness.
Trade and commerce are very different. In the old CIV games, it was a case of building caravans and setting up trade networks that way. This also led to abuse on the Wonders, since you could use the caravans to hurry a wonder into premature completion. I did that myself many times. In Civ III, there are no more caravans, and in fact there is only one way to rush a Wonder (you can’t even buy them quickly anymore)…you can spend a “leader” to finish the wonder. Leaders are special units which are created from elite units randomly. Leaders can either hurry a wonder…or expend themselves to create a special unit called an Army. Armies group three units together, and no unit dies in an army unless you kill all the hitpoints of the army…making armies powerful. In the two games I have played thus far, though, I have not successfully created one.
Resources are also different. There are ones which make your citizens happy and are for trade (ivory and gems)…and then are the somewhat controversial strategic ones. The strategic resources, like iron, coal, and uranium are needed for certain units, and if you don’t have a supply within your borders connected by a road, you can’t make the units. The Romans legionaires (and plain old swordsmen) need iron. Railroads need iron AND coal…which stymied me in my second game, because while I had researched steam power, I couldn’t build networks of railroads because I lacked iron for much of the game.
Some of the problems of the modern era are STILL here. The cities have an auto governor of sorts which will build things (not just endless amounts of the same) in a semblance of order…but in the 20th century, some of my governors wanted to build Longbowmen. Alpha Centauri did this much better. The end game can be a exercise in finding hundreds of units and moving them too and fro.
The biggest complaint I have is multiplayer, the lack thereof. Sid and co. HAD to know we would be chomping at the bit to play this, even imperfect work, with our friends. You can’t do it though, and it is a shame. While the computer players offer a good challenge (so far anyway), it is against humans that Alpha Centauri and the Civ II really shined.
Still, so far I like the game, despite its faults. If you will excuse me, now I am going to try the Germans. Militaristic and Scientific. Perhaps I will get an army this time…

Had an idea for breaking

Had an idea for breaking the deadlock in my mind for the story that I keep trying to do for Marcus–the murder mystery. I think I know now just who did the murder, and why and how Marcus might solve it. I also have figured that the Weir love interest could be fostered on him by a combination of a lack of sleeping quarters plus the peculiarities of the female Weir heat cycle (stealing that from a great short story I read on ASSM by Desdmona).
I just have to sit down and write the thing at some point. I feel its close…almost at that point where I can do nothing BUT write it. Otherwise the game is pretty quiet…created a graphic for the leaflet with the events of the Festival of the Unicorn. I hint that in years pass that there were even more events but the current year is reduced…Omphalian invasions can put dampers on a lot of things.

Found a neat new font

Found a neat new font over at Aenigma fonts, which seem to be specializing in outre and strange fonts more suited to graphics than to ordinary day to day use on
documents. The entangled font, as you can see, now is in a graphic on the top of this page.
System is getting back to normal slowly…installing software is a long chore at best. I have imagestyler back working, as witness the graphic creation, and we will see what else I need to do in the coming days.
Bridgette offered, discussing Amber again, to co-run Gwyddbwyll with me. After all, she “won” the game when I ran it in email,and understands perhaps better than anyone but me just what the heck goes on. It’s an offer I will give serious thought.
I also remembered an idea that I had for a “hawaii” sort of scenario. Not the islands themselves, per se, but the politics, dealings and repercussions of events which are analogous to the history of US relations with Hawaii, and how we literally stole the islands from their rightful rulers. It’s a story that doesn’t make the history textbooks that often, I am sad to say.

Another crash of a hard

Another crash of a hard drive, and this time an outlay of money to do it “right” .
But I am back, and back for good.
Ambercon news…it seems unlikely that Arref is going to go. I shall miss him and Anne, to say nothing of EGB. Damn. Then again, buying a new house is definitely an order more important and complex than a gaming convention. I wonder, if in his absence now, I should try and start an Amber campaign at Ambercon…something sufficiently free form and loose so that players could swap in and out.
Something to think about, anyway. Also on that front, Felicia has reminded me that doing a sequel to last year’s Dreams Made Flesh might be fun and could definitely get the interest of the players involved. Cal Westray, among others, had a lot of fun with our game and wouldn’t mind returning to the setting. Of course…it would require a “plot”.
Just finished reading Michael Swanwick’s IRON DRAGON’S DAUGHTER. A very different take on faerie, I shall have to mention it to Arref. It’s not to his vision of “In the Shadow of Greatness” but its a unique vision that has pinged the “idea meter”. Industrial Faerie! Draconic aircraft! Rich, rich rich. Swanwick can infuriate, titillate, and amaze…his prose rarely bores you.

A Reality-Based Blog for Paul Weimer's interests, including but not limited to Science and F/SF, books, Movies, NFL Football, Role Playing Games, Photography, and why 6*9=42. "Living in the Science Fiction Present", Proudly supporting Anti-Mundane SF, and aware of all internet traditions! I'm just this guy, you know?