Appropriately enough, just around the stroke of midnight, I finished Clock Tower 3 (Japanese official site), which my lovely wife gave me for Xmas. It's a suitably creepy entry in the survival horror genre from Capcom. The game -- the last completed project directed by the late Kinji Fukasaku (Battle Royale) -- is spooky and atmospheric -- heck, it's downright creepsville! -- with superb cutscenes. The gameplay isn't hard, though. I finished the game in a little more than 5 hours of linear game time, and probably less than twice that, counting replays. The puzzles are none too difficult, nor are the boss battles, once the player grasps the patter (save for the final boss, which is indeed tough).
One nice feature is that the heroine -- an English schoolgirl nearly 15 years old -- is not, of course, versed in combat; she can only stun baddies with holy water. Finishing the game unlocks a supposedly more difficult replay level that also includes a choice of new outfits for the heroine. Overall I enjoyed the game; look for a full review soon at Destroy All Monsters.
Ain't It Cool News reports that Robert Rodriguez will helm a film adaptation of Frank Miller's superb noir comic Sin City, after the director created a ten-minute demo flick that overcame the writer/artist's resistance to see his work adapted to the screen.
I'm late in mentioning CalPundit's excellent summary of the whole Bush/National Guard controversy, but Kevin Drum provides a good roundup of what we know and don't know about Bush's service record, and the questions the White House's document release leaves unanswered.
It's worth noting, however, several things that appear to be firmly established in the public record:
Bush appears to have in fact gone absent without leave from his Texas unit when he departed for duty in Alabama after the transfer had been denied
Bush appears to have disobeyed a direct order to take his flight physical, resulting in his removal from flight status and wasting the taxpayer money spent on his training.
The honorable discharge Bush's apologistslike to point to itself notes that Bush failed to complete the full term of his service commitment.
To top it off, the records of Bush's last two years of Guard service are hardly complimentary. They paint the picture of someone who performed -- at best -- the minimum possible required duty. Hardly a steely-eyed war hero, he.
That, and Bush's claim in his campaign autobiography to have flown with his unit for "several years" is a brazen lie -- unless "several" now means "less than two."
It's also worth noting that the Administration clearly sees Bush's record as a liability, because its minions continue to lie about it, as in this whopper about Bush supposedly volunteering for service in Vietnam, after Bush himself admitted he hadn't. Josh Marshall follows up here and here.
I'm at the local library with The Girls, because our printer is down and I need a form printed.
I'm also going to borrow a couple of manga from the library's collection (including Record of Lodoss War and 3x3 Eyes). It's really groovy -- thanks to the public library, I've hipped myself to quite a few manga I probably wouldn't have read otherwise. In fact, I'm about to review acopy of Junji Ito's Uzumaki (Spiral)I borrowed a week or two ago.
As long as I'm here, and have a half hour on the computer, I'm going to try to blog a bit more.
Here's a cool Flash-based version of the classic arcade game Donkey Kong. You even get unlimited lives! The only drawbacks are that it doesn't offer the hammer power-up that lets you smash the barrels Donkey Kong tosses at Mario, and it doesn't seem to offer any level beyond the first. It's still a lot of fun and a great bit of video game nostalgia.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Although I'm hardly a practicing Catholic, I do try to give something up for Lent every year. Since I'm in the middle of no fewer than three PlayStation 2 games right now, the PS2 is out. So I have quit drinking (alcohol, that is) for the next 40 days.
Since I do much of the cooking around the household, I heartily endorse this Byzantium's Shores post on the importance of keeping your knives sharp. As they used to tell us in Boy Scouts, a sharp knife is much safer than a dull one.
I have only one thing to add: We have a set of fairly high-quality steel (not stainless, which is more brittle) knives my lovely wife and I got as a wedding gift to ourselves. I try to make sure to hone them before each use (although I must admit, I slack sometimes). But I also keep a bunch of the lower quality knives of my bachelorhood, as they're more useful as utility knives. I'm fairly unwilling to use our Good Knives to open packages or letters, but a crappy Chefmate I bought at Kroger's a long time ago fits the bill perfectly.
I dropped by Best Buy this afternoon to pick up some blank CD-ROMs -- I've acquired quite a few fansubs I need to copy onto CD -- and while there, I also grabbed a couple of classic Toho kaiju eiga flicks cheap: The original Godzilla, King of the Monsters, and Rodan, for a mere six bucks each. c00L!
Perhaps best of all, neither feature is more than 80 minutes long, which makes for a good option when neither of us has the energy for a long movie (very often, we base our DVD selection on length more so than any other factor.)
The work situation is greatly improved. To be specific, I am beginning a new job starting today Monday. I'd like to thank everyone for their positive energy and good wishes. They were sincerely appreciated.
I'll have more details on what's been going on later this evening.
Update: I've been to the consulting firm that employs me for orientation, but I've been told that the team of four technical writers I'm on won't start until Monday because one of them isn't available until then.
w00t! Paranoia, one of my all-time favorite role playing games -- described a twisted combination of 1984 and the Marx Brothers -- is getting a makeover for the 21st Century! I recently received a mass email from game designer/blogger Greg Costikyan with the details. Here's the press release Greg sent along:
PARANOIA XP ANNOUNCED Cult Roleplaying Game to Be Revitalized for the Digital Millennium The Revolution Will be Blogged
February 19, 2004 - New York, NY - For Immediate Release
The Computer says that failure to feature this announcement prominently is treason. Treason is punishable by summary execution. Thank you for your cooperation
Mongoose Publishing of Swindon, Wilts., UK (www.mongoosepublishing.com) announced today agreement with the creators of the fondly remembered tabletop roleplaying game Paranoia, to develop and publish a new edition of the game, Paranoia XP. The new version will be written and produced by legendary game designers Allen Varney and Aaron Allston, with participation by Paranoia's original co-designer Greg Costikyan.
The developers will conduct their discussions about the game on a blog hosted at www.costik.com/paranoia, and those interested in the game are invited to comment and participate in the process.
Paranoia, originally published in 1984, has sold more than 200,000 copies worldwide, and retains a fanatical following despite having been out of print for almost a decade. Designed by Dan Gelber, Greg Costikyan, and Eric Goldberg, it and its supplementary products have garnered numerous industry awards, including several Origins Awards and the Gamer's Choice Award. It is known not only for its hilarious, dark vision of a future world controlled by an insane Computer, but also for its ability to attract world-renowned authors to contribute to its supplements and ancillary material--people such as multiple World Fantasy Award-winning author John M. Ford; Warren Spector, whom PC Gamer magazine names as one of the top 20 creators in digital gaming, and Ken Rolston, co-creator of the best-selling PC game Morrowind.
Paranoia debuted at a time when the Soviet Union was shooting down jet liners and invading Afghanistan, and when many workers feared they would lose their jobs as a result of the spread of desktop computers. With its vision of an Orwellian world, a totalitarian society controlled by an insane Computer that demands instant obedience at laser-point, it struck a worldwide nerve. According to Costikyan, that vision is relevant now more than ever. "Paranoia XP is not an attempt to bring back an old RPG for the nostalgic. Its basic themes -- totalitarianism, fear of technology, mistrust, and loathing--are, if anything, more relevant than they were in 1984. Spammers. Identify thieves. Blackhat hackers. The RIAA. Weapons of mass destruction. Totally dysfunctional government. Just as it did lo these many years ago, so shall the new Paranoia encapsulate and make funny the terrors we live with every day... or remind us to be afraid of things that we currently think are merely funny."
Alex Fennell, Mongoose's director, set down his Red Bull and Coke long enough to say, "We're bloody delighted to be publishing Paranoia XP. Yanks don't come any funnier than these blokes."
Allen Varney, who contributed to many early Paranoia supplements, looks forward to revisiting the game's futuristic underground city, Alpha Complex. "For years society has been inventing new material for Paranoia. I'll have a great time transcribing it. I hope players will like our newly redecorated setting, and I'll do my best to make them feel at home. Alpha Complex is not a place but a state of mind. Oh, and ginger ale for me, please."
Eric Goldberg who since 1984 has become one of the most respected figures in the online and mobile gaming industries, said, "For those who know the game, Paranoia has settled into the deep hindbrain. Catch phrases like 'The Computer is Your Friend,' 'Commies are Everywhere,' and 'Happiness is Mandatory' come to mind at the most socially awkward moments. Back in the 80s, a concern with the social implications of technology was the purview of a geeky few; today, it's of fundamental importance to everyone. Games, too, are now a huge part of the vernacular. I believe Paranoia XP will be of considerable interest not merely to the audience of tabletop roleplaying gamers but also to anyone interested in and concerned with the social-technological issues of today-the attempt to control IP, to police the Internet, to suppress dissent. We're living Paranoia. By the way--what a bunch of wimps. I'll have the pale ale."
The text-based online game rights to Paranoia have separately been licensed to Skotos (www.skotos.com). Reports that Paranoia XP will also be published in several other languages, and that film, computer, and console versions are may be forthcoming are rumors. Rumors are treason. Treason is punishable by summary execution. Have a nice day!
Mongoose Publishing is one of the leaders in the RPG market, producing games such as Babylon 5, Conan, and Judge Dredd for roleplayers all over the world. Its publications are available in all good hobby and book stores.
Greg Costikyan (www.costik.com) and Eric Goldberg have collaborated on various games since they first met at Simulations Publications, Inc. in the 1970s, including on the first online game to attract more than a million players.
Greg has designed more than 30 commercially published board, roleplaying, computer, online, and mobile game, has won numerous industry awards, and has been inducted into the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame for a lifetime of accomplishment in the field. He writes about games, game design, and game industry business issues for publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal Interactive, Salon, Game Developer magazine, and his blog (www.costik.com/weblog), which is one of the most widely-read blogs dealing with games. He is also the author of four science fiction novels.
Allen Varney (www.allenvarney.com) has published three boardgames, over two dozen roleplaying supplements (including several for Paranoia), seven books, and 250+ articles, stories, and reviews, including regular columns in four national gaming magazines. Varney recently designed and ran the UT Executive Challenge, a three-day business ethics simulation for 100 second-year MBA students at the University of Texas McCombs Business School. He is now developing a Web-based "business simulator" with the e-learning company Enspire Learning (enspire.com).
Aaron Allston (www.aaronallston.com) is the author of a dozen science fiction and fantasy novels and the award-winning designer of more than forty tabletop role-playing games and game supplements. He has recently written a script for a feature-length horror movie intended to carry his trademark humor into the realm of ultra-low-budget filmmaking.
I'm seriously jazzed about this news. Even though I no longer play RPGs, I'm toying with the idea of buying the game anyway.