Zombie in My Pocket – Let’s Play

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Are zombies passe yet? Yes, they are. Some time ago, this game captured my imagination, and apparently I kept a short log of one play-through. I found it, sitting in my drafts, dating waaaaay back to 2008. I chopped up some old photos I took and put a wrap on it. This is me, playing the free-to-print solo game Zombie In My Pocket.

With a few small decks of cards and a notepad, you role-play an intrepid adventurer trying to stop a zombie uprising by locating and burying an idol in a randomly-generated, besieged house. You must do this by midnight. It’s a roguelike in pocket format.

You do this by laying down square tiles, each representing a room in the house. Each turn, 10 minutes in game-time passes, and an event happens by drawing a card. You might find a weapon, you might fight some zombies, or you can take a moment to rest and gain some health back. In all, you have 18 turns to finish the game.

In my experience, it was a pretty well-balanced game, giving you maybe 40%-60% odds of winning each time, with room for tactical choices. A really nicely-designed gem, and free, to boot. Read, and enjoy the purple prose.

Three Hours to Midnight

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9:00pm – At the center of the terror lies a house. Continue reading

A Few IL-2 Shots (New 4.09m patch plus HSX update)

Here are a few shots from IL-2 I took yesterday. The 4.09 patch adds some new aircraft and three or four new maps. Nice. If I’m not mistaken, there’s also a pretty nice new feature in the radio menu: you can now radio for refuel, repair, and reloading of ammo. Does this mean once you run out of ammo, you can go home, pack it up, then go back out into the fight?

The new HSX update is a massive improvement over the AAA package. Mods are compressed, so now the whole thing loads a lot faster. The sounds are really improved. I could hear a lot more detail in what my P-51 engine was doing, whether I was flying level, making tight turns, or pushing past 100% throttle. The sounds are a lot crunchier now, a lot less generic. I noticed that when I let my landing gear down, I actually heard a lot of bass, like something was actually opening up right below me instead of thirty feet away. Lots of nice little touches.

There’s also a significant upgrade in the visuals if you can handle them, esp. with land graphics. Depending on how anal flight sim types are (and they are an anal bunch indeed), there are probably numerous modifications I will never notice.

A few pictures. (Click for full.)

I'm still a crap gunner, but a quick flop on my back at the last moment clipped the rudder and left elevator off of my opponent here (set to rookie, of course).
When I'm not playing with friends, I can take my time landing and usually survive. I still overshoot the runway most of the time, though.

Dave Simon tears into Old and New Journalism

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On The Media, one of my favorite radio shows and podcasts, frequently documents the current decline in the quality and coverage of news in the United States, which has of course, coincided with the one-two punch of the rise of the free-information demand economy of the Internet, and the shameful domination of news media by corporations who require that their news outfits behave like little corporate fiefdoms themselves, focused entirely on consumer demographics, sales, and money.

Sorry for the long sentence, but the state of things is equally ridiculous. This week, the completely wonderful Brooke Gladstone edited in the most interesting bits of a senate committee on the “Future of Journalism.”

Dave Simon, journalist, author of Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, and perhaps most famously known as the co-creator of the only honest police procedural ever, The Wire, tore into the pretense of things with the calm but damning precision he’s brought to his near-documentary television series:

“From the captains of the newspaper industry you may hear a certain martyrology, a claim that they were heroically serving democracy, only to be undone by a cataclysmic shift in technology.

“From those speaking on behalf of new media, Web blogs and that which goes Twitter, you will be treated to assurances that American journalism has a perfectly fine future online and that a great democratization is taking place. Well, a plague on both their houses.”

And:

High end journalism is dying in America, and unless a new economic model is achieved it will not be reborn on the Web, or anywhere else. The Internet is a marvelous tool, and clearly it is the information delivery system of our future. But thus far it does not deliver much first generation reporting. Instead, it leeches that reporting from mainstream news publications whereupon aggregating websites and bloggers contribute little more than repetition, commentary and froth.” (emphasis mine. a sense of irony also mine.)

He even rips a little into Ariana Huffington, which is worthy alone of listening, regardless of which wing, if any, you admit to leaning towards.

Read or listen to this segment on OnTheMedia.org. And support the program or your local NPR/PBS/PRI affiliate if you can.

Endnote: Dave Simon also recently appeared on Bill Moyers Journal, in an hour long interview certainly worth watching as well. Seek it out here. I’m still waiting for them to publish their showing of Sam Waterston performing impressions of Abraham Lincoln on the Internet as well.

Free music review: Faded Giant, by Conelrad (track)

It’s free music, listen to it. I’m going to gush about this for a minute.

Faded Giant – Conelrad (Community Shelter Planning)

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What’s so marvelous about this music is that it manages to contain the spirit of ambient sonic wallpaper without being unimportant. At first, it’s an unremarkable, staticky drone, typical ambient material, but its simple, huge tones graduate deliberately until the listener cannot help but be affected.

I’m coming out of a dark forest into a wide expanse of ruined trees and hollow buildings, half obscured in poisoned mists. It is the discovery of something beautiful and horrible at the same time, after the fallout has sifted to below the soil, and the suffering of bodies has long since faded. Likely, this image is brought on by the combination of the artist’s name (Conelrad), and the frighteningly calm album title (Community Shelter Planning), the album cover (shown above), and finally, having recently completed Half Life, Episode 2…

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So, yes, perhaps my interpretation of this track isn’t entirely original. Still an awesome track from a great album, and more than twelve minutes of it.

Conelrad‘s catalog can be sampled freely at munchhouse.com/conelrad.

Grim Fandango Puzzle Design Document Released

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For those interested in the game and a minor nostalgia burn, the puzzle design document for Grim Fandango is available from its author!

There doesn’t seem to be anything truly substantial here that you can’t get in the game, except some photocopied drawings of some characters and scenes. It seems to mainly just explain how the puzzles are going to be laid out and so forth, and thus only acts as a kind of illustrated walkthrough.

I only just scanned it, since I never played GF long enough to beat it, and will eventually get around to it. Still, add it to your collection if that’s your thing (as it is mine).

WARNING: If you have not played Grim Fandango and intend to someday, or just don’t like spoilers, DO NOT download and read this document!

Download at doublefine.com.

Ambient Nights – Free music, not bad after MP3DirectCut

The short: Quasi-netlabel Ambient-Nights.org serves up some good downtempo semi-ambient music for free, but you’ll only get them through BitTorrent, and each album is one long mp3 file– no individual tracks.

Long a fan of freely available music, I’d heard about Ambient-Nights a few years ago, but wasn’t all that thrilled with a few things:

  • No direct downloads are freely available from the site. You have to use a BitTorrent client to obtain the mixes, which entails waiting and perhaps attracting unwanted attention from your ISP or other hideous parties. Continue reading

Opera + Sandboxie = good performance on the EEE, with minimal disk writes

lesson learned: don’t write for half an hour on wordpress, then accidentally navigate away. you’ll lose your post.

Well, short story is best, then: sequester Opera’s activities on a Sandboxie repository on the SD drive of an Asus EEE to save disk writes. Decent performance! I’m almost concerned that Sandboxie is somehow writing to C:\ under my nose. Perhaps the speed increase (over editing Opera’s config to force it write cache, bookmarks, etc. to the SD card) is due to how Sandboxie manages disk writes from within its own system-level driver. Maybe it caches writes in memory until there’s enough to burst onto the SD? Not sure…