Midianian's Blog — Life sucks, and then you die.
February 21, 2010, 11:59 AM
due to being 99% spam. Will enable if/when I write something again.
October 5, 2009, 12:14 PM
Trying to understand monads is a bit like bearing witness to an eldritch horror from beyond time and space. First comes denial, where your brain simply refuses to comprehend the issue. Then small fragments of truth start penetrating through the wall your mind has constructed. This is followed by confusion as the concept is only partially understood. At this stage you'll be making unintelligible sounds and clutching your head as if it was about to explode. The last step is understand the magnitude, profoundness and implications of the concept. Then you just go crazy.
This is the best explanation I've seen so far.
September 29, 2009, 08:48 AM
Had an interesting start for a campaign in Medieval II - Total War with Spain.
First I invaded Valencia, as Portugal was already sieging Zaragoza. The Portuguese got their asses kicked by the Zaragozans, and then the Zaragozans got their asses kicked by me. The Valencians were tough and I still hadn't taken the settlement, so I got help from Zaragoza and finally got.
Then... the pope calls a crusade to Jerusalem. I hop onto the nearest ship as crusades have always been good to me. It isn't until I'm halfway there that I realize that Jerusalem is really fucking far. They're going to be royally pissed at my capital being on the opposite side of the Mediterranean. I take the settlement anyway, and sit there thinking for a couple of turns.
Then I give it to the Papal States. They're happy, naturally, but I'm there with a full stack of soldiers far away from home. So I invade Acre for lack of better things to do. Then I give it to the Papacy. I do this with Damascus, Aleppo and Antioch. But then I run out of Egyptians and I don't want to harass the Turks yet. So I go down to Gaza and take that. I stay there for a couple of turns, enough to patch up my fullstack (not that it really needs any patching), and invade Cairo and Alexandria. By now the Papal States has moved their capital to Jerusalem, and I proceed to buy Florence and Rome from them with the money from sacking Cairo and Alexandria.
So, the Papal States is now all the way in the middle east, my army is still there with them, and I can see the Milanese salivate over the lands I just acquired, one of which is defended by five crossbow mercenaries and the other by eight ballistas. I send reinforcements from Spain as soon as possible, but a couple of turns later, the Milanese invade. The next turn the Pope says "Nuh-uh", and the Milanese leave. Good thing I had been so good to the pope.
The next turn the Milanese sink one of my ships and get excommunicated, my reinforcements arrive, and I invade Genoa. Unfortunately their Duke is in there and they get reconciled.
At this point, my troops arrive at Tripoli, and it's mine the next turn.
For some inexplicable reason the Papal States allies themselves with Moors. I use my influence to call a crusade to Cordoba (I had been delaying cleaning the Iberian peninsula due to my adventures in the near east), but when I send a crusading army in, they break their alliance with me instead of the Moors. I invade Granada and Cordoba, leaving only Portugal to be dealt with in Iberia.
Now I have three cities in Italy, with Milan and the Moors still pissed at me. It's going to be an interesting campaign. I'm planning on taking Ajaccio (held by Milanese), and Cagliari, Tunis and Marrakesh (held by Moors), but I wouldn't be surprised if something came up to make that hard or impossible.
September 17, 2009, 05:30 PM
Remember kids, if you don't violate copyright laws, the terRIAArists have won!
September 12, 2009, 10:22 AM
I actually have no problem with DRM provided that I can't tell if it's there or not. More specifically, if it:
August 31, 2009, 01:57 PM
Why didn't anyone think of this before?
I think I'll spend the next couple of days badgering webcomic authors to let their comics be included in the thing.
August 12, 2009, 02:36 AM
Well, I was somewhat right about my musical taste being incompatible with Audiosurf, with the majority being either constant uphill (slow and boring) or downhill (fast with no room for strategy). Some, however, produced a more interesting ride.
I initially though the different "characters" were too similar, but after playing I've found that they require rather different approaches. I usually played with Vegas (for ease of recovering from screw ups) or Pro Pointman (for the advantage it gives when you have time to plan).
There are several minor issues with the game; it takes a long time to load and quit, there's no way to change key bindings, the only way you can find out that there are keyboard alternatives to "left click" and "right click" are through the hints...
Then there's the user interface. It looks like some sort of combination of a normal game interface and a fancy desktop app (you know, the skinnable type).
last.fm support is definitely a plus, as is ogg vorbis support (the majority of my music files are oggs).
The best use for Audiosurf I've found is as a visual and low-level mental distraction while listening to audio books. For this purpose, it Rocks!, but as a game it's pretty Meh.
The absolute, autonomous, freewheeling, grassroots, nonaligned, nonpartisan, sovereign, unconstrained, uncontrolled, unregimented games packAugust 9, 2009, 12:43 AM
Damn Steam and their sales. Again they managed to get me to buy a pack of games. From the ten, I already owned The Path (through Steam) and Braid (through Impulse). Interestingly, for Braid it recognized that I had completed the game (normal and speed run) and gave all the achievements. I'm not sure, but I think this is the only game on Steam where I do have all of them.
I already completed Blueberry Garden (took an hour), and played about half (I think) of Crayon Physics Deluxe and World of Goo. Everyday Shooter was rather interesting, though difficult. I'd say Audiosurf is somewhat incompatible with my musical taste, but I have to admit that including last.fm support was more than I expected. Mr. Robot seemed quite horrible, but I'll have to play some more to form a proper opinion. I had played Gish's and Darwinia's demos earlier, so I didn't play them yet.
August 5, 2009, 10:22 PM
The following is an e-mail I sent to Gabe Newell about HL2 some time ago (he keeps asking for it in the commentaries). No response has been forthcoming, which means he has been blinded by my genious and cannot use e-mail at the moment. This is as close as I'll get to reviewing them.
2009-09-20: I was right. He was blinded by my genius, and as such, forwarded my mail to Marc Laidlaw, who took two months to comprehend my genius before he could manage a short, awestruck reply.
Some time ago I bought the Orange Box from Steam when it was on sale. I liked Portal and TF2 but I don't have much to say about them (other than that they rock), so I'll comment on Half Life 2 and its episodes.
First, notes about all the games.
My main problem with Half Life 2 and the episodes is that they're extremely linear. It could've been anyone else playing the game, and pretty much the only differences would be in the amount of ammo and health at different points in the game. Sometimes it's possible to make the killing more efficent (most often by using physics) and sometimes it's possible to choose between different tactics when advancing, but a large part of the time it's impossible to do either.
There are several types of non-linearity, but this game has effectively none of them. There's story non-linearity, which is generally a bad idea (though great for replayability if done right). There's spatial non-linearity, which most of the time is a basic necessity in order not to feel like walking in a tube. Most of the time it also gives you more tactical choices. There's a little of this, but not much. Most of the time there's only one way to go forward, and it's a usually just a corridor, meaning that your chices are to go by the left side, right side, or the middle. Not much of a choice. Then there's non-linearity in problem solving. This is what I'd most want. I realize the game's a shooter, but sometimes it'd be interesting to get the possibility of bypassing combat by solving a puzzle, or finding an alternate route.
By making sure that most players get the same experience, you also pretty much guarantee that every playthrough is the same. While the pretty good AI does make things a bit more interesting, most of the time it makes the same choices in the space it is provided. There's little replay-value in Half Life 2.
My second problem is with the NPCs who fight with you but are too important to get killed. With infinite ammo and no real effect from damage (other than a flinch), it just feels like they're cheating. It's a waste of resources to try and protect them, and at several points you're very short on ammo when you're with one of them, making it all the more obvious. The only reason to protect them is to prevent them from being swamped, and you end up supporting the NPC instead of having the NPC support you. I can think of a solution that at least partially fixes both "cheats" while still keeping the character alive. I realize this most likely won't be changed for Episode 3, but maybe you can think on it more for future games? I can hope.
Now, Half Life 2 specifically.
One thing of note were the two (I think it was two) levels inside the Citadel where you just sat in the transporter thingy. Partly I was awed by the scene, but part of me was just pissed that you spent that much time on something I couldn't play and which didn't even advance the plot.
The boosted version of the gravity gun taught me to use it more in combat situations, something I hadn't really done so far. It would've been nice to learn that eariler.
Episode One was unstable for me. It's curious as all the other games in the Orange Box work just fine.
I liked getting the boost to the gravity gun again, but I found the rest of the game (escaping City 17) a bit tedious. I guess it's because there was already a lot of the same in HL2.
In Episode Two, I almost immediately noticed the real-time shadows from the flashlight. This made the dark look much more realistic. In the preceding games the flashlight felt like watching through a mask or something, but this made it feel like a flashlight.
I really enjoyed the commentary. The comments from Alyx's voice actor were also a refreshing change from all the "this level was designed..." comments by the developers. Though I have to say I was a bit disappointed in some of the other comments in Episode Two as they appeared unfinished, the captions containing [TODO-like notes in brackets].
Another problem with Episode Two was the achievements. They really broke the immersion. It was like a notification popping up saying "Hey, you're playing a game!". I now realize I probably could've disabled them with a variety of means, but meh, the damage is done. I enjoy achievements in games like TF2, but I think a game with a strong story such as HL2 suffers from them. I don't want to switch them on and off, I think there should be game-specific settings for the steam overlay thing. I guess this is more a Steam issue than Half Life issue, but anyway.
August 4, 2009, 07:21 PM
I've been trying to hack together a replacement for nouz, for several reasons:
I haven't really done much PHP before now, a little bit at school but not much. But now that I've done some "real" programming in it, I'm starting to question my previous opinion that PHP is better than perl.
The main reason why I'm hating PHP is that it seems to be the most self-inconsistent language I've ever seen. Exceptions to rules seem to be at every corner: empty() is not a (first class) function, can't have constant arrays, can't use int, string etc. in type hinting (gotta love the error message on that one: "must be an instance of string, string given")... and these are just things I've noticed after a couple of days.
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