Monthly Archives: November 2014


I beat Limbo. It came out for iPad and the game was pretty heavily hyped when it first came out, so I figured it was worth purchasing. I’m not sure how to evaluate it. The game has its strengths: the art, the atmosphere, the puzzles. The story gives me more pause. I guess it’s supposed to be open-ended, but I don’t think there is enough to adequately support any interpretation. I find in some games, even when the story is supposed to be great, it’s more like the backstory and world-building are good. (Like Legend of Korra, the world is awesome, but the story sucks.) Meanwhile, character development is non-existent. Not all games need that, though. Some get by on exploring a theme. Some games have no theme and just need awesome mechanics. I don’t know if Limbo actually has a theme, or a lesson learned.


I’m going to play the new Smash today for Wii U. Pretty excited. I’ve only gotten one taste of it on 3DS (I don’t own one).

I’m especially interested in figuring out what characters will fit my style best. I’ll have to do a lot of un-learning and re-learning.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to play with the GameCube controller yet, so that’ll handicap me. I suck without the c-stick. I may have to get a new controller. Other people were playing with mine and said it sucked. Part of it is because the joystick has different resistance and part of it is because my controller is hella old and dirty and literally has aluminum foil in it.

Productivity vs Presence

I think in a work environment productivity is clearly better than presence. That is, 4 hours of productive time is better than 8 hours of unproductive butt-sitting. However, productivity can be sometimes hard to measure. So, a lot of places will use presence as a proxy. Plus, when employers can’t trust employees (or choose not to) then presence is automatically valued over not being present. For those employees, all the emails and tasks done outside of work add stress but don’t count in the employer’s eyes. I’m lucky enough to have avoided such situations.

Random Access Memories

“Tom brings home Random Access Memories and they listen to it together, as father and son. A tear runs down Stu’s cheek. He thinks, ‘On this day, both my son and disco have returned. This truly is the greatest day.'” – from my Rugrats fanfiction. Like if you want more!!!

I posted that on facebook. I’m not sure that there are any other appropriate places for that joke. Even reposting it here is weird.

A Dark Room

I was thinking about A Dark Room (Spoiler Alert!) vs Boom Beach and why one game is good and one game is terrible. Both involve resource gathering and waiting, right? The difference is that A Dark Room involves building an economy. You use some resources to produce other resources and you have to make choices about which resources are more important. You can run a deficit to get more bullets. It’s more complex and you have to make choices; it’s not merely mindless clicking. The other difference is the theme. Your villagers become slaves. It’s funny juxtaposed with Boom Beach, where you’re “freeing” villages from people who make them work, but then they’re giving X amount of gold to you every hour. With A Dark Room, there are more layers with both the gameplay and the theme.


Greed sucks. The more material goods you have, the more you want, and it’s impossible to be satisfied.

I want a new iPad, even though mine is perfectly fine. Well, I want more hard drive space. Is that enough to justify a new expensive toy? Why don’t I finish the games I have first instead of coveting more?

I think it takes effort to appreciate what one has, and I should put more effort into that. I should be very grateful for financial stability and shouldn’t blow it on unnecessary expenses.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

is a very funny show. I’ve only been watching the first season, but the characters make me laugh. It’s not yet in great sitcom territory where I care about the characters and they’re real people, and I don’t know if it’ll ever get there. However, I don’t think that it necessarily needs to be like that to become one of my favorites. I mean, I don’t need the characters in Always Sunny to be 3-dimensional.

Pay for your games

I briefly played Two Dots. The game is beautiful, within each level and in the world map. But the gameplay is kind of garbage. It got frustrating because once you get to higher stages, you just needed increasing levels of luck to clear them. Before I got tired of the game, my friend who was also playing asked me for some recommendations for puzzle-like games. I was surprised to notice that almost all the games I recommended weren’t free. Most of the games on my iPad and iPhone are paid.

My niece recently downloaded Boom Beach on my phone. I’ve been playing it a bit so that I could join her strike force or whatever. I haven’t leveled up my base enough to join yet. The game is not very rewarding so far. It feels like fucking Farmville, but I don’t even get any ribbons. You just wait and wait around. Tap a few things when you get some resources, and then build. Sure, there’s some raiding/fighting, but there’s barely any strategy involved.

South Park recently parodied freemium games. While I didn’t get a chance to watch the entire episode, I saw a clip where they explained the freemium model. It was dead-on and described the game perfectly.

Here’s a heuristic: If a mobile game is free, it’s probably not good.

Corollary: Pay for your games if you want good games.

Recently, Monument Valley released an update with more levels. I have yet to play the new levels. However, I have played through the original levels and I loved them so much. Earlier, I said Two Dots was beautiful. Well, Monument Valley is amazingly gorgeous. It’s a puzzle game inspired by MC Escher. Anyway, the new levels are only available through in-app purchase. This led to a flood of one-star reviews by entitled idiots. Fuck you. Fuck all of you. I left a 5-star review to help combat it.

If we don’t want games to be shit, then we need to start paying for them. It’s especially not hard to pony up some cold hard cash when a beautiful game that gives you hours of entertainment costs way less than a movie and a little less than a few candy bars.

Monday Nights

I missed blogging yesterday. I essentially went straight from work to my friend’s place, and then I was driving home when midnight passed.

It’s crazy that we’re still getting together pretty much every Monday night. I can’t even properly count the number of years. I guess it was right out of college, so… 5 years? We started just watching House, the TV show starring Hugh Laurie. Eventually, we stopped watching House (the quality declined), but we still kept meeting together on “House Night.” It’s nice having the stability of a group of friends and a regular night to meet together no matter what.

Morning Routine

My phone has made it so much easier to browse the internet in bed after waking up. I’ve never found reading stuff on the internet to be that effective a morning routine. (I’m using the term effective very loosely, since I’m not obsessed with productivity.) It may be even less so as my old usual blogs and comics have been phased out by social feeds.

Dark Skies

“Let there be light,” said the industrialists. As the earth grew brighter, the heavens dimmed. The stars all died and no one bothered looking upwards anymore.

We like to think philosophy killed the gods, but I believe it was the lights.

Killing Merlin

The last several times I played Avalon, the Merlin kept getting assassinated. Even adding Percival didn’t help. I knew there had to be a way to counteract this, so I began searching online for a remedy. Lo and behold, I found this discussion:

The main thing to keep in mind is that usually the other people make it super obvious that they’re not the Merlin. One trick to confuse evil is to be act super sure as a good person, even when you’re making guesses. Hopefully multiple people will be right, or the wrong ones will be seen by evil as Merlin attempting to throw them off. The other thing is that the game can be won even when Merlin does nothing, so Merlin doesn’t have to do a great job hinting and signaling to everyone.

The next two games didn’t see the Merlin assassinated. I think the advice helped.

On a semi-related note, we played Werewolf on Halloween. I’m not as big a fan of the game because there’s a lot more guess-work and a lot less deception. However, we played with a candle in front of every person. During the night, the moderator would blow out a candle. You’d awaken in slightly dimmer light, one candle extinguished representing the dead person. The atmosphere made the game way more fun. I really, really want to play with the Ghost role, where the Ghost communicates via Ouija board.

As a group, I feel like we sometimes get too stuck on a “right” way to play, when the game requires dynamic strategies to keep people guessing and to keep the game fresh.


I recently started watching Gotham. I’m not quite sure what to think of it yet. I liked the episode with the Balloon Man. I like it when shows deal with ideas of what constitutes justice and sticking to one’s principles even when it’s hard. I like the atmosphere of a corrupt town veering towards outright chaos. Penguin is fun. I’m always excited to see Don Falcone, but only because I still think of him as Rawls, haha. I’m not enjoying Jada Pinkett Smith’s character. I watched the “Arkham” episode and didn’t like it because it felt like the story was full of “and then,” instead of the plot being propelled by the characters.

I wish the show would be darker. Like, embrace the tragedy. Show that Gotham’s fate is sealed, no matter what people try to do. Those ancient Greeks knew how to do tragedy. We always want a hero. I guess that wouldn’t work on network TV.

Fantasy Calm

I sometimes used poker as an exercise in keeping myself calm. I’d make my decision and then whatever happened happened. I could only control what I did, and I focused on that. I couldn’t control the cards, though, so I tried to be the same whether they were good or bad. A bad play with a good outcome was nothing to cheer about.

I do something similar with fantasy football. It’s insanely stressful to watch scores live and worry about how much you’re losing by or worry about how your lead could evaporate. So instead, I try to use it as an exercise to not worry about what I can’t control. I’m not perfect. But it helps a lot.

Fantasy football is one step closer to real life than poker. Poker has uncertainty but there are lots of times when math will give you the right move. Low-stakes poker is all math. Psychology matters more in no-limit, but less than you’d think. You can know the odds and expected payout. In fantasy football, you can have a sense that some things are more likely than others, but the actual statistics are more fuzzy. There’s more uncertainty. And in real life, there’s even less information and just as much randomness.

Even so, the exercise works well in poker, fantasy football, and real life.


I devote a lot of brainspace to football. I probably should re-allocate that brainspace to other things. Because I really have nothing interesting to say today. I caught up on a lot of chores; I didn’t do much deep thinking.

Or maybe, instead, I could expand my brainspace. I don’t know. I really got nothing today.


In an earlier post, I expressed concern about blogging too honestly when the spiders are there to index everything and anyone can find what you write easily. I guess I must’ve internalized Orwell’s edicts on writing pretty well because something like esotericism never even crossed my mind. I’m a fan of very direct writing. Obfuscation is pretty much a sin to me, when it comes to writing. I once apologized to a professor for an essay title because I was worried that it didn’t actually mean anything. So it seemed like my only options were to write privately or not at all.

But maybe I should rethink that. I recently found this book review via the Dish. The book is about someone investigating Strauss:

Staying far away from questions of foreign (or any other kind of) policy, Melzer has chosen as his subject Strauss’ notorious assertion that virtually all philosophers up until the early 19th century wrote their books “esoterically” — that is, using a rhetoric of concealment, with a surface teaching meant for general readers and a hidden teaching for those who were intelligent, clever, and tenacious enough to uncover it. This contention has been dismissed by most non-Straussian scholars, who have tended to suggest that Strauss projected the phenomenon onto most of the canonical authors he discussed in his many learned books and essays.

I find the concept intriguing and it could be a solution to my current conundrum of public writing in a hostile world. Even though it offends my sensibilities, I’m actually not completely unfamiliar with esotericism. I once wrote about The Prince in this blog and incorrectly identified the book as subversive. I think esoteric is the more proper term. Well, I’m less sure that it’s proper for The Prince, but 100% sure that it can be properly assigned to The Art of War.

Now that I’ve mentioned my interest in this, I guess I’ve opened up a can of worms in interpreting all my future writing. Even if I denied that something had a hidden meaning, that’s what someone would say even if there was a hidden meaning.

I haven’t made a decision yet about what to do. I still find brutal honesty a very appealing quality in writing; it’s a common thread I’ve seen in work that I like the best (both other people’s and my own).

I want to write and it’s important to me, but I have other goals that are just as or more important that may conflict with writing. Esotericism may be a way to have my cake and eat it too.