Inspirational Theories: How Ayn met your mother

hamym

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just finished reading The Fountainhead, which is one of the fictional books in which Ayn Rand lays out her philosophy of Objectivism.

 

rapture

This philosophy has since inspired many a writer. For example Ken Levine who founded a city under the sea to the glory of man.

However the thought struck me, that another famous work also is inspired by her. You think I’m messing with you? Let’s look at what we have.

 

ted

The Fountainhead follows a young blonde architect. Living in New York.

 

ted_hammonds

Columns mean a big deal to him.

 

heisenberg

His first boss quits due to substance abuse.

 

tedsimac

Following his first job, he tries to set up an architectural firm on his own. He is considered for many commissions.

 

sven

But the board always picks someone else.

 

barney

He has a friend, Peter Keating, that advances in his career doing seemingly nothing.

 Ted-and-Zoe-who-is-or-is-not-the-mother-425x278

He meets a woman, Dominique Francon, who also is a fan of architecture.

 

Zoey-vs-ted

Who has to oppose him in everything to show how much she loves him.

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She is married to a rich man with a yacht.

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 He goes sailing with her husband.

 "Challenge Accepted"

And finally, he blows up a building.

 

Oh_Honey_7

And steals the rich mans wife.

 

Pretty much the same story in my eyes. Also New York is frequently lifted up as the greatest city on earth throughout both stories. This is Z4 and Inspirational Theories, pulling similarities out of context since forever.

Is this how Ayn met your mother?

– Ken

 

Hindsight: The Sword Coast Pt. 2

Last time I was delving into the depths of retro games rereleased I came to these conclusions:

  • Models look alright for a game by today’s standards if zoomed out. The textures though are just awful.
  • Things get too small, doors are easy to miss.
  • It is unforgiving like not many a game is today.

I mentioned, not so much in passing, my problems with choosing the people that I spend my journeys with.
Starting from the top, I could never leave my sister Imoen. The look on her face when I tell her to go, and stay away. I wouldn’t be able to bear that. Also, knowing beforehand that our fates are intertwined why would I let her go, playing lawful good that is. Otherwise I should’ve thought to kill her in the crib.
Khalid and Jaheira promised to stay with me as a favor to Gorion. Jaheira is really good with that druid stuff, and it’s too bad that she comes with the baggage of Khalid.
Finally, Minsc, which I have already spoken lengths about. It just wouldn’t be Baldur’s Gate without him.

This leaves but one slot for any other character. Realizing that this might be one of those things of nostalgia hindering me from looking at the game with new eyes I made the retro-emotion equivalent of hara kiri and dropped Khalid and Jaheira. Picked up Branwen, the lady in stone, and Rasaad, the monk. First time I ever had a monk in my party, and having no clue how they work I let him roam around, getting killed a lot.
Changing the characters made me realize that all of the characters lack serious depth. I get the reason why Branwen joined me, but that is the end. The new character Rasaad has more to give, as he is a new addition to the game and surmounts the standards of yesterday. But apart from the few quests that are personal like Minsc or Edwin there really is nothing to get from the characters. Having played Shadows of Amn, I know that it is improved there, but I guess I have to submit defeat to Mass Effect on that point. The characters there always seem to have something to say. Never liked the way you have to run around camp or ship talking to your crew though, seems too much like a cheap way of extending a game.

Leaving the trouble of fellowship we venture deeper into the plot. The Iron Throne that seems to lurk behind every band of mercenaries there are. On the way though the terrain I notice that almost every quest is a bit tacky. There’s the strange quest where you fetch a little girls cat from the waterfall, or the boy who lost his dog and turns out to be a demon. The dialogue is more of a joke at times, only really being serious in the main quest line. It is as expected though, being a game so thoroughly grounded within nerd culture.

////;::::;\\\\   ß This is as much of a picture of a spider as you will ever get from me.

I hate spiders. They are just a big mess of legs and eyes. Disgusting. And they are everywhere, in every fantasy game ever. The Sword Coast isn’t spared their presence. Following the main plot, I find myself in the spider infested forest, with the sick abomination that is phase spiders. They’re spiders that can walk between the Planes as they wish! If you were afraid of spiders before, just wait till they pop out of thin air and start munching on your back.

The fat man in the hut was cursed by Jon Irenicus! I’ve never picked up on that before. So apparently, there’s more connection to the sequel than I remembered. Rasaad has more since he’s from Athakatla and added later. But that doesn’t count.

Speaking of Rasaad, the Monk class is pretty much rubbish, balanced for the sequel none of the good abilities are within any xp reach. The extra speed often puts him in awkward situations. He’s an interesting bloke though, we’ll see if he stays around.

And speaking awkward speeds. The Boots of Speed are awesome. But only one character can wear them, so I have Minsc running around like crazy everywhere. Thought that I’d use haste for the party to keep up. But apparently they stack creating something very similar to a hamster.

I did rethink my actions and didn’t flush the mines with the workers still inside. And now – to Baldur’s Gate!

Steaming Summer

I am back this week. More or less. I’ve been missed, or at least that is what I  think was the reason all three guys jumped me at the door. It could also be that I bought a pack of toilet paper. One cannot know for sure.

You’ll be looking at the next episode of the Unforgettable Journey before the week is over. It all depends on the weather and such factors that I have no power over.

Until then I just wanted to write a bit on the subject of the games that I picked up on the Steam Sale. It is funny that a store made for taking all of your hard-earned money away from you has garnered so much good-will. Everyone loves the Steam Store. It was a great idea to create a store that competes with the pirate bay, but when the seasonal sales become something of holidays for people it is quite disturbing. At least, they’re not exploiting their close to monopoly on digital game distribution.

I don’t know if Steam has got this thing where they send an email when a game on your wishlist goes on sale and I just haven’t noticed before, cause it is amazing and scary at the same time. Coupled with the ability to buy games straight from my Steam app on my phone, anywhere. Well, this is the result.

fez

The first game I got was FEZ. I’ve been looking to play this for some time, but I don’t own a 360 so I have had to wait. Aside from the bugs, I’m very eager to see what this game has in store.

monaco-whats-yours-is-mine

I really do miss the games that were made for playing together with four friends in the living-room. It was the only kind of multiplayer before the Internet. Games like Bomberman, or even games like Kirby Star Super Deluxe where you could turn any enemy into a friend by plugging in another controller. Internet multiplayer really is great, but it’s not as good as the mayhem that is your livingroom filled with multiplaying friends. This will roll in our flat this fall.

SuperMeatboy

Somehow I’ve missed the phenomena that is Meat Boy. I don’t know how. I’ve seen the protagonist in some places, but not been able to place him into any context. Indie Game: The Movie changed that. And when it’s €2-ish on steam, who can deny it. Especially know that I found my old trusty WingMan Action that I used to relive the old games from before my time, with emulators.

roguelegacy

The last game that I came across was Rogue Legacy. I was very intrigued by the idea behind the game. A rogue-like where every new character you play is heir to your last. Combined with the many, sometimes crazy, traits that come with every new generation I was thrilled. Possibly because I had an idea to make a game something like that. Though, that is where the similarities end. And I was a little bit disappointed with this game, since it wasn’t as polished as I thought. And every character looks the same, I would’ve wished that there would’ve been more visual difference. What I didn’t expect was how great it would be to play a rogue-like metroidvania. It’s like playing a new Castlevania every time you die, because the similarities between those are pretty much the same as these castles. Also the humour is great, but I’ll let you find that out yourself.

But now, I’ll get back to drawing comics.

Cheers.

-Ken

Hindsight: The Sword Coast Pt. 1

As it happened, I was doing a favor for my grandmother restoring her laptop. They had created a recovery disc set which, to my knowledge, is a normal procedure. What I did not expect however is that it consisted of 15 CDs! And while I was sitting there, swapping discs I came to think of Baldur’s Gate. I wished that I hadn’t lost it somewhere, or scratched up all of the discs. However, later that day the Enhanced Edition was on sale on Steam. €4 for a great chunk of my childhood. Soon I decided to rediscover the Sword Coast and the Bhaal spawn. The main question being, does it still stand?

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The Enhanced Edition has had a face-lift in the menus, and I realize when I create my new character that all of the features in Shadows of Amn is in place. The character creation process is a fragile process, and I have to start over several times. I remember always picking a mage back then, and a paladin for Shadows of Amn due to the number of vampires you have to face. This time, I wanted to try out something I never tried before. It turned out as an Elf Archer. I’ve never had a character using bows for some reason. As I am to find out, it is highly beneficial.

I hurry through Candlekeep. I’ve been there so many times trying out so many of the classes. As I am playing a Lawful Good Character this time, I won’t kill any guards for their plate mails. Thorondil is bugged and won’t speak to me. Imoen and Gorions voices are so familiar. English not being my native language, some of the sounds didn’t make sense at all to the younger version of me. “Nestled atop the cliffs.”  For example, the first sound that you hear as you start the game didn’t make any sense to me. But still it brings back those feelings now that I understand what it was all about. An thinking about it just makes me want to reroll a new character. But then there would be no revisit.

Using all of the original textures and enabling scrolling was good enough of a compromise. The zooming creates two problems. The first being that the ground looks awful zoomed out, every texture minimized separately creating a weird pattern. The second is the much smaller areas that you have to hit.

I meet Khalid and Jaheira at the Friendly Arm Inn, and I know that it is to help new players finding characters to make up the fellowship, but most good characters are stuck with baggage. Like Khalid, he’s useless, and I guess that the game jokes about that fact. You keep him, and Jaheria since they were with you from the beginning. Making my way down south to Nashkel I meet Neera, one of the new characters, a wild mage femme fatale. And Minsc! Oh, there is nothing to hate about the ranger turned berserk with his giant miniature space hamster. Minsc, and Boo bring life to the game. It must be one of the greatest characters ever written. “Butt-kicking for goodness” and “Magic is impressive, but now Minsc leads! Swords for everyone!” and “Ahh… We are all heroes; you and Boo and I. Hamsters and rangers everywhere, rejoice!” are a few of the great quotes that they gives us.

minsc

Adding Minsc to my party posed a problem though. He comes with baggage. He desires to save Dynaheir whom he is supposed to be a body guard for, part of the Dejemma thingy. Nobody really cares, there is greater glory in the copany of Alorin. Trying to push away these thoughts I pursue the strange events of the Nashkel mine. Killing Mulahey is a lot easier than I remember it. And I don’t care about Xan, even though he has a cool flaming sword.

Down in the mine I am also struck by the unforgiving nature of the game. The first trap that most people walk into will kill you instantly. I recognize that there is a tutorial section now, but the game is generally unforgiving. Which is good really, I feel like we are in a time where the game has to teach you as it goes or have a tutorial. It kind of makes you stupid, or makes you feel that way. The tricks are so obvious if you know what to look for. Perched birds that fly away if the game is progressing as it should, tall ledges that you fall from so you know you can’t go back, the list goes on and it makes you sick playing a game where you see all these signs. GO THIS WAY –> (This is not a hint). That’s something to make a game about, go ahead steal the idea.

Using the Dungeon and Dragons rules makes you level up every now and then, as opposed to the games today where leveling up is all you ever do. If a character dies, you have to carry them back to a temple and pay for a resurrection. And your characters need to be at least level 9 to learn it, if they know priest spells.

Back to Dynaheir, I go to save her. Killing all the gnolls are easy as Minsc has them as his racial enemy. When we get up to save her she asks to join us, and I tell her no. Minsc leaves. This is a dilemma, I thought that I would play this game differently than usual. I still want to have this Wild Mage, never played one. A thought creeps up on me. From somewhere deep down. It might be from the part of me that is spawn of the God of Murder. What if, she did not exist. Surely that would solve things. I select my character and aim an arrow at her.

The arrow sings through the air and burrows deep in her flesh. Dynaheirs body falls lifeless to the floor. The silence and anticipation is thick.

Nothing. No reputation loss, not much loot. I talk to Minsc, who stood by her side as she fell. He is willing to join us again. I guess that hit to his head did more than I thought to his mind.

And I was that much closer to becoming what I was destined to become.

Now back to the ADVENTURE! Bobo, go get your own toilet paper, or send Gabe. I won’t be back for a while, I have a great work to do.

-Ken

The real future of gaming?

In the wake of E3 we find ourselves fed the industry’s vision of the future, the big reveals of the PS4 and the XBONE  Although some argue the number of actual consoles this generation. Some people think that this is the last console generation as such. Through Kickstarter we’ve received several new vistas for our gaming needs.

ouya01

The OUYA bringing back classics through an emulator in your living room. And some other Android-based games. With the much smaller price-tag (read one-fourth) of the PS4 and it’s vast library of games that are substantially cheaper. It shows that indie games are the next step in gaming.

Oculus-Rift-ps4

Many have awaited the arrival of the VR-headset, which has been a dream for many years. The Oculus Rift finally made it happen through kickstarter, and maybe with help of the resurrection of 3D film. While it is not a console in itself, and all console support is very speculative. It brings up the question on whether we need consoles. I think that we do, but that it depends very much on Sony and Microsoft not to make themselves a thing of yesterday. Living in the tablet age, nobody has a computer anymore, and a console is much cheaper if one desires gaming. I see huge potential in tablet and console removing the desktop from many homes.

sixense-wireless-dev-kit-hydra-2-2

Diving into VR, we really need to use our hands inside this new reality of ours. Using the controller or mouse and keyboard, just feels dull with the new-found dimension. Sixense might have just the thing to couple with our Rift. Maybe we will also see the rise of gun-controllers as the FPS is a very natural platform for VR.

Thalmic-MYO

The thing that I would want more than these controllers, though, is MYO. There’s no need for controllers, use your hands. There would be more opportunity to reshape the experience with a completely new interface. Just imagine skyrim with it, swapping spells by changing hand gesture just like in-game.

omni

This is one thing that excites me alot. I have had many ideas for different contraptions like this one in the past. The Omni is a little bit more clever than my sketches ever were. Translating your running, crouching, jumping into the game has always been a bit of a dream on my part. And now it is soon to be real, even though I probably won’t fit it in my living room or any other room for quite some time.

Imagine now that we had full PS4 support for these items, and that it was possible to play PC titles available today on it. No matter how unlikely that is. There wouldn’t even have to be any games designed for it, at least to begin with. Oculus Rift already has alot of support in Unity and Source. The Omni translates into keystrokes and could be plugged into any game out today. The MYO would be able to translate the gestures similarily. You could probably play at least HL2 after some tweaking, straight out of the box.

That would mean that in early 2014 you could get the whole VR dream package:

PS4 $399 + 2x MYO $298 + Oculus Rift $300 + Omni $448 = VR $1445 = £954 = €1113 = 9781 SEK

Which is quite a sum. But not considerably more than buying a “Real Gaming Computer”. And with some tweaking and modding, it would be available to anyone.

The future is at the gates.

-Ken

Balls of Steel

balls_of_steel

 

We’ve seen Snyder’s Superman and we were not impressed.

I might have something inherently against the look of Snyder’s movies. Yes, the lack of fill light reminds one of comic book shading. I don’t really like that either.

The thing is though that it started out good with introducing Krypton. But it escalates quickly from there. Starting at the number of plot holes, which is just astonishing. It is as if nobody really cared about making sense. How Lois sneaks up on Clark. Why Zod wants to see Lois. The whole air makes people strong or not. It’s a very unrewarding film for anyone that likes to watch the plot closely.

Then the case has been made that this isn’t Superman. He doesn’t seem to care for the people around him at all, throwing trucks left and right. Plowing through skyscrapers. I myself haven’t got that clear of a vision of Superman, but it seems as if someone has been watching too many Marvel films.

The balls of steel is, obviously, a reference to the super fights in the film. They have the same choreography as the common pinball machine, and they take turns being the ball.

Most dissappoiting though, was the dialogue. It felt arbitrary. Like you could have swapped it for humming or rhubarb.  Those totally out of context “jokes”, aswell as the lessons in sci-fi. Which brings in the comic that I drew ater seeing this film. It is a recreation of a scene from the film, that turned into a sci-fi 101. And it happened so many times, and it’s about the worst way ever to break the fourth wall.

Balls of Steel

 

 

Also, if you don’t know what terraforming is, you probably don’t care.

And thus we present to you the new Z4 Film Rating System™, which is made up of two grades. RECOMMENDED- and NOT RECOMMENDED by Z4.

 

MAN OF STEEL 2013: NOT RECOMMENDED by Z4.

 

Cheers!

 

-Ken