Modern Dystopia

Tag Archive: vent

Are Squad Level Turn Based Games Dead?

…and where is the Role Playing in many recent RPGs that thrust a predefined character into what is ultimately a very linear storyline?

On Kotaku today there is a thoughtful article lamenting what seems to be a bygone era. The true Role Playing Games of the past. The article brought back many fond memories, and showed me just how we’re being taken for a ride by developers these days, a roller coaster, action packed ride, but with our appetite for consoles I don’t see us getting off the rails any time soon.

Anyway, I wrote a comment there, and it got so wordy I though I might post it here as well, as a mini article of my own.

I fondly remember playing older games like Darklands with it’s rich storyline and environment and party based gameplay. I’m a huge fan of what I term Squad Level Turn Based gaming, a genre that includes some stellar classic games like Laser Squad, X-Com, Soldiers at War and the Jagged Alliance series as well as newer forays into the genre such as Silent Storm.

All these games kept me awake night after night, week after week with engaging and thoughtful gameplay, and often extremely tough opponents. Never boring!

Recent attempts have missed the mark, the unofficial remake of X-com I saw recently was unpolished and amateur, the games I held high hopes for such as the most recent Fallout and Dragon Age became more of a button mash than a thinking exercise.

The closest in recent years was the original Neverwinter Nights, that game found the balance (IMHO) between tactics and action. While also presenting strong role playing and character development. We could write our own adventures, play other peoples, run a world of our own designing, play co-operativly online, enjoy persistent worlds, or get together for an adventure with friends on a LAN.

The focus on consoles seems to me to be what has sped up this decline. I think younger gamers are being trained into a short attention span, button mashing, fast paced gaming world, and it’s a great loss.

Addendum: if you like Turn Based gaming, you may really enjoy Battle for Wesnoth. Their own blurb sums it up perfectly: “The Battle for Wesnoth is a Free, turn-based tactical strategy game with a high fantasy theme, featuring both single-player, and online/hotseat multiplayer combat.” It’s open source and there is a huge variety of content that’s been developed for it, from races for multi player to full campaigns.

Woolworths Bullshit!

If you’re not aware of this already, Woolworths have stopped accepting credit/debit cards (such as Visa and Mastercard debit cards) for credit transactions at their EFTPOS terminals. Instead you will be required to make a Cheque or Savings choice, and hence, with most banks, incur a fee yourself for the privilege. The theory is that they don’t want to cop the fees from credit transactions, but they’re quite happy for you to use a CREDIT card.

I heard about this a little while back, and listened to a Woolworths spokesperson make some very conflicting statements.

1) They claimed that use of Debit cards was becoming an unmanageable cost due to their rising prevalence in transactions and the fact that they get charged a percentage fee by the bank for credit card transactions.

2) They said it would only impact a VERY SMALL number of consumers as less than 1% of their customer base actually use this method.

So which is it? If it’s only 1% then how do the other 99% pay?

I am sure actual credit card usage (as opposed to debit cards using the credit option) is much higher than 1%, but they aren’t stopping you using them. Imagine the furore if they stopped accepting credit cards! or if they did (as they have a right to) charge a small fee for credit transactions.

They’d be publicly shamed on every current affairs show in the country, and every reputable media outlet too! Instead, they’re shafting the little man. The lower income people who are probably trying very hard to AVOID credit cards as the evil trap that they are.

My bank makes a POINT of promoting these debit cards as a way to avoid fees. The fees to use them as EFTPOS are quite high, whereas credit transactions are fee free. Using the credit option allows them to recoup a small amount in fees from the retailer, in the same way every other credit transaction does. Those costs are BUILT IN to the costs at the supermarket. We’re not inventing a new expense for Woolworths.

Now… I’m having a rant, but I’ll mention another thing. I’m not sure if or how this applies, but doesn’t Australian law say that you cant artificially limit payment options in this way? Didn’t Ebay have to do an about face when they tried to limit the options for making payment?

I’m looking forward to leaving a few hundred dollars of groceries on the checkout when they refuse to allow a credit transaction.

Don’t boycott them. Make a public statement, in teh store, so the managers have to explain to their bosses what’s happening at the checkout.

Fill your trolley, and then refuse to pay by any means other than credit! If they wont accept your payment, walk out and go to Coles, or IGA.

It’s my shopping night tomorrow. I’ll be putting them through the wringer.

You can write to Woolworths here:

Mandatory Internet Censorship

It’s important that you make your voice heard on the subject of Mandatory Internet Censorship. However, in this modern age our government is yet to introduce guidelines or facilities for the lodging of electronic petitions, even though a house committee has been looking at it for at least 4 years now.

So if you want your voice to be heard read on, and this is true for all petitions to the federal government! Whether it’s about No Clean Feed, R18+ Gaming or any other subject.

Why signing the official paper petition against internet censorship is the only sure way to make your signature count!

The House of Representatives is the house in Australian Parliament that will be passing the legislation to filter the internet, This House can only be petitioned on paper and each signature must be in the persons own signature, online petitions are not valid, when petitioning parliament you must petition the appropriate house on an issue in which they have the power to act, and only the House of Representatives have the power to act on this bill that imposes mandatory filtering of the internet.

Please take 5 minutes to print out this pre-approved official petition, that is going to be tabled in Parliament in 6 weeks, it’s great if you have already signed a digital one, however it does not take the place of the official paper petition.

Official Paper Petition against internet censorship at any of the below addresses:;;;

Please share this information around, so we can show parliament how serious we are about opposing censorship.

PornStarNames invade Twitter

I’m not surprised really, Twitter is, after all a perfect medium for a meme like this. But the name game isn’t a new one, hell I think I remember first figuring out my Porn Star Name when I was in early high school, a long long time before the internet existed as we know it.

But now…wow! Paranoia is brought to new levels. Warnings abound now on Twitter about how revealing your PornStarName is akin to giving those nasty hackers/crackers/russian mafia you credit card number and PIN. Well, get over it. A couple of things to think about…

1) I’ve never seen Street names used as security questions in over 17yrs online IT work. Occasionally pet names, yes but think about it…

2) If you DO use these things as passwords, security answers, then you’d be pretty damn stupid to start typing them out anywhere, I hate to say people deserve to have ID stolen, but if you’re going to be that daft, then maybe you do.

I think someone mentioned something about mother’s maiden name being aprt of the game, and if someone’s trying to slip that in, then yes, I’d be a bit more concerned. It was never part of the game, and may be an obvious attempt at social engineering, but again, you wouldn’t be that stupid in the first place would you. I mean, does anyone actually USE their mother’s maiden name as a security question answer? It’s probably one of the least secure items you could use to start with, easily discovered by any really interested person.

PornStarNames is a laugh itss been doing the rounds since long before the internet, just because it made it to Twitter, no need to think it’s some great social engineering scam, it’s not.

Have a laugh, at your own expense and others, and if you have, foolishly, used any of this information as a password or security question somewhere, then surely you’ll see those letters appear on the screen before you and know it’s not a good idea to share.