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  • Five classic games that need a proper, mobile port

    I miss my Pentium 4 home brew tower. I built it when I was in college, mainly to write papers and other college stuff, but it became an entertainment hub in no time. I got my first CD burner and made all kinds of mix CDs. I got my first DVD drive, and realized movies didn’t have to come on huge, clunky, analog tapes. But mostly, I realized how much I loved gaming. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always known I liked gaming. I never did get an Atari or an NES back in the mid 80s, but every time I went over to a friend’s house and they had a gaming system, I would beg for an opportunity to get on said system. So when I finally got my brand spanking new computer built, I made sure to include a decent graphics card and all the RAM I could. I no longer do much computer gaming, as computer gaming really isn’t convient for me. Most of my gaming is now done on a PS4 or my Android driven tablet. So of course, that magical day when I found Atari had ported Roller Coaster Tycoon 1 to Android, I got really excited. It gives me a feeling of nostalgia. It made me wonder what other games I used to play the heck out of could be ported to mobile devices. So, of course I had to make a listicle exploring this topic…

    1) Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. Yes, I know, they ported the first one. What more do I want? Well, there’s a reason the made Roller Coaster 2 and 3. For starters, I want to build a ride that isn’t going to scare my guests away as soon as it goes a little too fast or maybe loops one too many times. For another thing, Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 had a better sandbox mode, easier controls, more rides, and just better everything. Some didn’t like the graphics, but honestly, I found them to be just fine.

    And hey, you can’t cause anywhere near this amount of mayhem in the original!

    2) Sim Copter. This game was already pretty old when I built my computer, but I still loved it. It was so much fun, rescuing sims, upgrading my copter, flying around a Sim city 2 City, and hey…..if I got annoyed by my passengers, well, I could always “accidentally” eject them. I guess every game needs a little bit of an outlet for psychopathic behavior! Of course, I would be remiss in mentioning Sim Copter without also mentioning the fact that there was a “gay Easter egg.” Basically a bunch of male sims appeared in droves, hugging and kissing eacouther. While they removed it, you still saw, what appeared to be a gay pride parade from time to time. Good times! Good times indeed.

    3) Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri: Here’s a great example of a turn based game that was great to play with friends – except none of my friends gamed. But maybe if there was a mobile edition? One that didn’t expect the players to sit there, glued to their devices all the time? Why not? So what made this game special, as opposed to the millions of other turned based games out there? This one had technology trees that lead to bizarre and wonderful inventions and secret projects! This game also had amazingly fleshed out personalities….I still have nightmares about Miriam! And yes, one could say that the Civilization games have the same things – so perhaps this could come as a package deal – why not? Sid could probably use the money! Just as long as they include the Alien Crossfire expansion pack.

    4) Age of Empires 2: Age of Kings. Before I bought this game, I bought the demo. Even that provided me a LOT of hours of play. But yes setting up a game with maybe five or six factions….making deals with some, going to war with others. One of my favorite moves was to ally myself with a faction, build a bunch of towers, and park several seige weapons in their town center. Then, when I was almost done with disposing of the other factions, I would simply unally myself and all of a sudden their little kingdom would fall to shambles. They’d be begging for mercy within a minute, but I was never merciful. Mwahahahahahahahah. Yeah….there’s that psychopath I mentioned in Sim Copter.

    5) Sim City 3000 Unlimited: Sim City 4 got really hard, and a lot less fun – even in sandbox mode. While 3 didn’t have as many features as 4, it was hella more enjoyable! And yes, I did just say hella – so sue me. But back to the game. Building roads, subways, neighborhoods, bridges….this must be the feeling Tim Taylor felt everytime he did his signature grunt! I swear, I almost switched my major to city planning because of this game! And if I got mad at the sims, I would just release a disaster. Oops, did I just accidentally destroy your town center? Oh, I am so sorry…..so very sorry. Of course, EA did give us SimCity Build it, but that’s more of a pay and or wait type of game. Honestly, those games frustrate me after about a month, so I tend to give up on them easily. No, I want to play a full on sandbox game of Simcity!

    Oh hey annoying Sims, I just called ET and he’s going to blow up your town!

    Honorable mention – There’s another game I’d like to see on mobile platforms, though I’m not sure if it’s a possibility: Star Trek Armada (or perhaps Armada 2). That game ate more than its fair share of Friday nights. I’d choose a map, and always play the Federation or the Borg. I’d have at least two factions of every alien, and oh the geeky fun I would have! I feel like letting out a half snort, half laugh just thinking about it! I remember one of my favorite moves was to capture a Borg vessel, even if I wasn’t the borg, and use it to assimilate klingons, Romulans, etcetera. By the end of the game, I’d have a true armada of vessels from all four species. I don’t know if a port of this game would really work in Andoid, but it would be interesting to try at least. I mean, what do they have to loose? Resistance would be futile…..you would be assimilated! Oh wait….

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  • Morrissey vs Crowdfunding

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    Morrissey is an old man, shaking his cane, and yelling GET OFF MY LAWN. I mean, that’s like his dinner after all. OK, ok, the dinner part was an undeserved jab. I respect his dietary choices, though he doesn’t respect the rights of others to do the same, but that’s an entirely different story altogether. Morrissey recently said something downright ignorant and hurtful to independent musicians. Coming against all the musicians one finds on Kickstarter and gofundme, Morrissey stated: Crowdfunding Is Desperate and Insulting. This simply is not true!

    go vegeFirstly, music is a dream of many a people. Music is a very fickle business to get into, but if that’s your dream, then you should use all tools at your disposal to make this happen. Chase your dreams! Morrissey has been in the business for a long time, and has reached a point in his career where he can release a symphony of white noise and it would still sell a zillion copies because he’s freaking Morrissey. Good for him, but not all musicians have reached that point. Sure, I can see that someone of his caliber and popularity might feel a little desperate if they have to resort to crowdfunding to publish their music, but again – not everyone is Morrissey. Not everyone has the privilege and luxuries afforded by Morrissey.

    But the issue goes deeper than simple privileges afforded by big name musicians. Crowdfunding provides the musicians with the ability to not have to deal with a record company. The day of releasing an album through a big label, and then having it distributed to all the record stores is over. Artists no longer need that, and that’s a good thing. Record companies are notorious for taking more than their fair share of revenues. When all is said and done, the average musician (including Morrissey himself mind you) has to tour to make any money at all. Record companies provide a lot of perks – expensive studios, advertising, distribution, and the like. They also have a lot of staff that needs to be paid, overhead, stockholders, etcetera. If a band can sidestep the middle man, and just rent a studio themselves and distribute their music online, that’s a bigger cut for the musicians. That means they might not need to spend 200 nights a year on the road, just to feed their families.

    Stepping away from the monetary hassle, there’s also a certain amount of freedom a musician gets when they’re not tied to a record company. It’s common for musicians to have to sign a contract saying they must make X amount of records. This has led to things like Andrew Eldritch’s SSV-NSMABAAOTWMODAACOTIATW. Sometimes bands just peter out before their contract lets them. You get bitter feuds in bands, you get crappy albums, and you get unlistenable music that doesn’t sell well. It’s a stable gig, sure, but it also sucks when one wants out of that gig. Crowdfunding means record labels don’t have that power over a musician. It also means the artist has the freedom to write whatever they feel inspired to write. They’re not pressured by their label to keep it clean, keep it radio friendly, or even to keep it in a certain style. Crowdfunding throws the shackles into the recycling bin where every other piece of scrap metal belongs!

    There’s another aspect that Morrissey doesn’t get, and that’s how crowdfunding creates a bridge between the musicians and the fans. As much as I wish I could be the former, I’m the latter. I’m a fan of the music. As a fan, the most hurtful thing Morrissey said was “What next? Do you want us to brush your teeth?” This statement makes me want to kick Morrissey in his nether regions and delete all the songs out of my library. He does not get that crowdfunding makes those of us who feel so connected to the music even more so connected! We can actually be a part of the process of making sure our favorite artists can publish their music. No, we didn’t write it, and no, we don’t own their music. But it fills us with joy to help. A band I’ve loved for a long time, Flemming and John, are making music RIGHT NOW because of crowdfunding…and I helped! My 43 bucks is getting me a copy on vinyl, but more importantly it’s helping put out the first Flemming and John album since 1999. No amount of swag can match that feeling – the feeling that I’m part of the album. morrgetofflawn

    Finally, crowdfunding allows fans to show our gratitude to the artists. I remember walking around downtown several years back, listening to Over the Rhine’s Ohio album. I loved it. It was part of who I was. I wanted to do more for OTR. I knew buying the album and going to their shows was good enough, but I felt like I wanted to do more. They were sharing their soul with me (and the rest of the world). This in turn fed my soul. How is 15 bucks for an album and 25 or so for a concert even beginning to repay that debt? Sure, a few bucks more in a kickstarter isn’t repaying that debt either – but it helps. Again, it gets the music out there. It helps them fulfill their dreams. That’s at least a start.

    Crowdfunding really isn’t a new concept. There was an album Willie Nelson put out in the 80s or 90 to pay off his tax burdens. He fully disclosed that he was in trouble and he needed the help of the public. A fifteen dollar CD would make sure that Willie didn’t go to the slammer after messing up on his taxes. Maybe Morrissey is just too far removed to realize the benefits of crowdfunding. Maybe he’s just an old dog who can’t learn a new trick. Maybe he’s just a jerk, and that’s why he and Johnny Marr will never get the Smiths back together. Maybe I’m being unfair with that last part. If I am, burn me at the stake, just make sure I smell the flames as they rise and my Walkman starts to melt. Now I know how Joan of Arc felt!

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  • Top 5 soundtracks of the ohs!

    I was not going to do this list, but its pretty much writing itself in my head anyways. Besides, there were so many great soundtracks this decade, I almost HAD to write this list. So without further Adieu, I give you the top five soundtracks of the ohs!

    5. Team America: World Police (Film – 2004) : OK. This film is rude, crude, and at the very least, NSFW. But it is also funny as heck. And the soundtrack was done so well! Who could forget classics like “Freedom isn’t Free” and “Montage?” Not to mention the anthem of patriotism that is the song, “America! —- Yeah!” But as funny as the soundtrack is, what made this soundtrack great was the fact that when it (and the movie) was made, we were (and are still) in the midst of a war that doesn’t seem to have an end. It was a time of extreme patriotism at the expense of those of us who dared question why. Team America: World Police dared lampoon these political zealots, as well as those who stood blindly to oppose them (ie the Film Actor’s Guild). This soundtrack and movie was an expression in free speech. I dare say the creators have indeed, with the making of this great piece of art, put in their buck oh five (cause freedom costs a buck oh five).

    4. Spamalot (Stage – 2004): As I type this, I have the song “Run away!” going through my head. Spamalot was based on the classic movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  I dare say, the producers found the one thing missing from the film: MUSIC!  “The Song that Goes Like This” lampoons the cheesy hit song that is inevitably in every serious Broadway production. “Find Your Grail,” while comedic in nature, has a good point – one should indeed search for their “Grail.” And who could forget (ahem – sings in my best voice),  all for one, two for all, four for some, and three for all. So bring out your dead and always look on the bright side of life! Even if you’re not yet dead – or wed.

    3. Avenue Q (Stage – 2003): One of these days I might actually get to see this show live (as opposed to the crappy video floating around on youtube), but for now, I have this marvelous soundtrack. And what a soundtrack! I’ve often asked myself  “What Do you do with a BA in English?” I’ve often wished I could go back to college, and I find myself singing “It Sucks to be Me” on a regular basis.  I’m pretty impressed the writers of Avenue Q throw political correctness out the window with “Every One’s a Little Bit Racist.” And “Schadenfreude?” Well, that just makes me laugh.  The Avenue Q soundtrack is not safe for work by any means, but I find myself playing it at work on a regular basis anyways.  Avenue Q may not be the best for those who are offended easily, but it has more than its fair share of valid points.  One has to wonder what the Avenue Q soundtrack would have been like if it had been a television series – somehow I don’t think it would be the same.

    2. Dr Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog (Internet / DVD – 2008): If you haven’t seen this yet, go to Hulu right now and watch it. OK? Watch it? Good. Wasn’t that amazing? And what about the music? A high point on the album (and the video itself), is the song “A Man’s gotta do,” which outlines a pivotal scene in song. The scatting in the second chorus between Penny, Dr Horrible, and Captain Hammer is probably my favorite part of the entire video (the remote control is in my hands! Balls!).  That’s what makes this soundtrack so great – the music is not there for the music’s sake – the music is part of the plot. If you took the music out of the production, there would be no storyline.  If this is what happens when writer’s go on strike, maybe writers should go on strike more often!

    1.  A Mighty Wind (Film – 2003): The soundtrack for “A Mighty Wind” did something different than any other soundtrack mentioned on this list: A Mighty Wind’s soundtrack included songs not in the movie. One notable instance is the Folksmen covering “Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones.  They take a traditional sex, drugs, and rock and roll song, and make it a folk song. Quite intriguing actually. And while the soundtrack features other instances of songs not mentioned in the movie, one can also judge between the “toothpaste commercial” New Main Street Singers version of “Never Did No Wandering,” or the Folksmen version which is musically truer to the lyrics. On a side note, if you have not seen this film, you should! The soundtrack is the best of the Ohs, but the movie itself is the best mocumentary of the ohs. I could think of far worst things to do with an hour and a half.

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