DotD: yegg

yegg, \ YEG \, noun.
safecracker; also : robber

yegg

Man vs Wife: The Game of Life

Man vs WifeThe Game of Life, or sometimes just called LIFE, was originally created in 1860 by Milton Bradley and it looked absolutely nothing like the game we know today. It was a modified checker board and included a six-sided teetotem instead of dice. You tried to land on “good” space and collect a total of 100 points, you could earn 50 by reaching the final “Happy Old Age” square. But in 1960, on the 100th anniversary of the game, it was redesigned and re-released in the form that we know it today. The teetotem was replaced with a spinner wheel for movement and a winding track that included three-dimensional elements: bridges, mountains and buildings. And the points system for scoring was replaced with money. Players are given start-up money, a car and a peg, representing them, to drive the car. And away they go.

The Game Of Life

Isn't it pretty?

There are many versions of The Game of Life available. For our game, we played the Target exclusive Vintage Game Classics edition. We bought it, and others in this series, because of the look of the box. It makes for a better display than a traditional cardboard board game box. Of course, the trade-off of the nifty and compact design is that it takes longer to set up. Other versions you just unfold the board and are done. This one you have to unfold the board (eight sections instead of two) and then put all the buildings, mountains and bridges on it, and the spinner. The design is nice, but it makes for a spinner that is less stable – it works, just don’t get crazy with it. Since it was the first time we’d opened this box, we also had to unwrap all the money and bank notes, as well as separate the little plastic people, which in the old days were just straight pegs but now have little arms down the side. My wife decided to be female and chose a pink peg. I decided to be male and chose a pink peg.

We read the rules. Neither of us had played the game in years and we felt certain that there had been some house rules in play, so we decided to stick to the printed rules for our game. I switched my pink peg for a blue one, because the rules state that males are blue and females are pink. It seems The Game of Life is pretty set into its gender roles, although it really doesn’t matter because they’re just pegs on a game board and not a judgement of the players. They could be green pegs and it wouldn’t make a lick of difference. But I digress…

So we spin the wheel and I get the lowest roll, I’m the banker. I control ALL THE MONEY! (Wife: Just like real life.) Hey, do you want to do the math? (Wife: Do you want me to do the math?) No. I set up the bank and give each of us $10,000 to start. We put our cars on the board and spin to see who goes first. (Wife: I win!)

I explain the rules of the board. Yellow squares you do only if you land on them, same as Gold squares. Red squares you have to do as you pass, no choice. And White squares you CAN do if you want as you pass.

Immediately I recall the house rules of youth as we take our early turns. She gets her career, a physician, and heads out. (Wife: I also caught an escaped lion!) I get my career, a journalist, and land on the tornado square that makes me go back to the start. In the old days we tried to hit this spot because we let that person get two jobs! But that’s actually against the rules.

We both bought auto insurance at the start, and we bought life insurance as we pass it. And they work in-game just like in real life, sort of. You buy them and then if nothing ever happens to you it seems like a waste of cash, but if you don’t have them and land on one of those squares it can be very expensive. Unlike real life though, you don’t have to keep paying for it. Oh, and I also captured an escaped lion. (Wife: I think they need to hire better zookeepers.)

You have to get married. You cannot play, nor win, at Life unless you get married. The game takes no position on gay marriage, however specifically states that if you get sent back past the marriage spot you cannot get married again. (Wife: No Big Love or Sister Wives.) No divorce either. The Game of Life is very optimistic in some respects.

(Wife: Lucky Day!) In one of the strange rules of the game, landing on a Lucky Day spot you get $20,000 from the bank, which you can keep or spend on two numbers and spin for a chance to win $300,000. (Wife: I bet the money every time.) And you lost every time. (Wife: I know.) Which is why I’m in charge of the money. (Wife: Shut up.)

We both buy stock. There are some rules about playing the market, she does it twice and I never do. (Wife: Playing the market sucks.) Just like real life! The only reason I bought stock is because of squares that state “If you own stock…” and then you collect a bunch of money. Completely not like real life.

At various places in the game you can get kids, either by having them or adopting them. At one point I have to choose between having a daughter or collecting $480,000. I choose the daughter. I am an idiot. Because I’m obsessed with science fiction, I keep track of my “other path” the rest of the game. Alternate Reality me is rich, handsome and a world traveler. I have 4 kids, took a vacation on a polluted lake and had a millionaire take revenge on me. (Wife: hehe!) A pox on the 1%! Occupy the Game of Life! (Wife: I have a gold mine!) Shut up. I discovered Atlantis! (Wife: I won the Nobel Peace Prize!) I went fishing. (Wife: I went to the Arctic!) We digress…

She crosses the bridge first, which means that when I eventually catch up I’ll have to pay the toll. She also lands of the Day of Reckoning first, obviously. (Wife: I win!) Not yet. She gets $96,000 for her 2 kids. She spins and crosses into Millionaire. (Wife: I win!) Nope. She spins one more time for her lucky number, which for the rest of the game I have to pay her if I spin it. (Wife: Why didn’t I win?) Because I’m not dead yet, and it’s the person with the most money when they die that wins. (Wife: Really?) No. But also, yes.

I finally drag myself across the finish line. I earn $192,000 for my 4 kids. We both get $120,000 for owning stock, $8,000 for having life insurance, and we count up the money. (Wife: I win!) She wins. (Wife: I win!) You said that already. (Wife: I know … I win!)

Final tally:
Me – $1,117,000
Her – $1,825,000

The primary problem with The Game of Life is that if the first person across the finish line doesn’t go for Millionaire Tycoon and win, then it just sort of drags out. Eventually everyone crosses the finish and we go into accounting, and only after the mathematics is done do we know who won. Kind of a wimpy end for the game.

The second problem with this game is that it is extremely linear with almost no choices for the player. There are only 3 places where you can choose between two paths, and the final Tycoon choice. The game has rules where you can spend money of wheel spins. It gives you the opportunity to lose lots of money, but playing straight through it’s pretty much just luck of the spin.

The game plays better with more players. Being linear and having a rule that two players can’t be on the same space matters more when the chance of it happening is higher. I’d recommend at least 4 players, and the game comes with 6 cars.

Anyway…

Man, 0. Wife, 1.

(Wife: I win!)

DotD: leonine

leonine, \ LEE-uh-nyne \, adjective.
of, relating to, suggestive of, or resembling a lion.

leonine

DotD: remora

Utilizing dictionary.reference.com‘s Word of the Day, I’ll be doing a drawing of the day (or at least trying, we’ll see how long this lasts).

remora, \REM-er-uh\, noun:
An obstacle, hindrance, or obstruction.

remora

Playing Games – Man vs Wife

I had an idea. What if I convinced my wife, who doesn’t generally like games, to play games with me, or rather against me, and I documented each one in a blog series? So I posed the idea to her, and she was lukewarm on it, but over time as I mentioned it now and then she began to like it more.

But what would we call it?

Man vs WifeOh, she didn’t like the name much. But it had actually been the jumping off point for the whole idea for me. I’d seen those shows, Man vs Food and Man vs Wild and the rest, and I thought to myself, “What happens when you take a man who loves gaming and he marries a woman could take it or leave it? Man vs Wife!” And it works for me, as both a play on those reality TV shows and as a play on the ends of wedding vows when the officiant pronounces the couple “man and wife”.

And so it begins. We’ve played one game already and I’m working on writing it up (we actually video tape the session so I don’t have to take notes), and we have a pile of board games and video games. Hopefully I’ll have the first one up within a week. After that I make no promise as to a schedule.

Anyway, that’s it. Just a minor announcement of future content.

Going Dark

Tomorrow, the 18th of January, many sites on the web are going “dark”. Some will be putting up a blank black page. Others will be putting up a page of information about why they are going dark. Others still will be blacking out their logo and censoring words and other clever tricks to show support without actually blocking their content.

Tomorrow, the 18th of January, this blog (and some other sites I run) will be going dark. We’ll have a page up with some links and info, a video and a form.

What’s the big deal?

SOPA – Stop Online Piracy Act. It’s a bit of legislation going up for vote in the House of Representatives in the next week or so that aims to give copyright owners more power to protect their copyrights. At its base theory, it isn’t a bad idea. Piracy sucks. People shouldn’t do it, and it would be nice if there was a way to actually stop sites like the Pirate Bay from existing. However, like much copy protection, DRM and other things people have invented over the years to try to stop pirates, SOPA is going to have its largest impact on people who aren’t doing the pirating.

You see, any decently technically savvy person isn’t going to be affected by SOPA. And most pirates are technically savvy. If you block the DNS name of a site because it has pirated material on it, you haven’t blocked the IP address. And someone has already invented a plugin for the Firefox browser that circumvents DNS lookup for known blocked sites. See, the pirates have already beaten this new form of piracy prevention and it hasn’t even been implemented yet.

The simple fact is that if these companies, these copyright and content providers, were to spend the same money they spend on protecting their stuff and bribing donating to Congressmen on making it easier (and cheaper) to buy their products, they’d make far more money than they ever will “stopping piracy”.

So, tomorrow, the 18th of January, I’ll be showing my support for throwing out, or at the very least revising, SOPA. And we’ll probably go dark again on the 23rd since the Senate will be voting on the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) which is pretty much the same thing on the 24th.

Learn more about SOPA and PIPA.

2012: Of Ends And Beginnings

2012So… welcome to 2012! Let’s dive right in. This year, as predicted, there will be an apocalypse. It will be nothing like any of the movies on the subject. There won’t be volcanoes and earthquakes. No super tidal waves, no zombies or plagues, no invasions from other planets. If Hollywood has dreamed it up and filmed it, it isn’t likely to be the way things happen.

However, on November 6th of this year, Americans will head to the polls to elect a President, possibly giving the current one another term or maybe giving a new one a try, and they’ll be electing every seat of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate. I figure it’ll take about 6 weeks from that for things to come to a head, which will place it pretty squarely right where all those predictions claim “the world will end”.

Of course, the world won’t literally end. It’ll still be here, spinning on its axis and making its journey around the sun. But figuratively, the world as we know it will. There are a lot of people, and I’m one of them, who are upset at the way the government is currently running and are willing to vote “for the other guy” with almost no regard as to who that is because we want to send a message and throw everyone we can out of office. This is a “good thing” and is the reason why democracy is awesome. Power to the People and all that.

The only problem is that our current system of government is so horrendously broken that all of the “other guys” are pretty much the same as the guys currently in office. You might get a different slant on the same old rhetoric, but not much else. They’ll all keep voting the way they’ve been voting: for themselves.

However, 2011 illustrated that there is a significant swath of “the People” out there who have had enough AND are willing to do something about it, or at least to Occupy places. Don’t expect this to end. Winter always puts a damper on outdoor activities, but when it warms back up the sit-in will begin again. By November, politicians who in no way support the Occupy movement will be using the Occupy movement to get votes of people who would never vote for them, and once elected they’ll conveniently forget any promises they made to those “hippies” living in the parks. By December, it should be clear that nothing has changed as people start actually looking at voting records and other important things rather than campaign hype. It’ll be the Hope/Change bait and switch on epic proportions.

And let’s not forget, by December, our troops still won’t be home.

So, when I say that there will be an apocalypse in 2012, I simply mean that we will see a shift that will rock the United States, and through ripple effects the whole world. That last time we had a monumental shift was in 2001 on the 11th of September. The event and the actions taken in response changed the world. It was a dividing line. There existed a world before that day and a world after that day. And I think we will see that sort of thing happen again, another event that will create a dividing line.

But hey, don’t be sad. We’ve got a good solid ten months to enjoy before the fit hits the shan. So, live it well.

Real ID Revisited

So, last year, you know, 2010, Blizzard announced their new Real ID plan. To which I had this to say:

None of the “good” parts of Real ID, the cross server chat, cross game chat, seeing people’s alts, and so on, required the use of real names

Blizzard did back off a little bit. And now they unveil the new BattleTag!

Short version: It’s Real ID without using your real identity.

Now if they can just allow for a character exemption or “invisible” mode so I can choose to play but not be seen by my BattleTag buddies, they’ll have covered just about everything I care about.

The Ratings Game

starsThis isn’t about TV shows. That particular Ratings Game would take an entire blog unto itself to even begin to properly discuss. No, I’m talking about when people review things and rate them.

Does Size Matter?

Some people used a 5 point system. Usually 5 stars, but then they give out half star ratings, thus making it a 10 point system on a scale of 0.5 to 5. Then you get 10 point systems, and then they go and try to present averages between multiple reviewers and dish out things like 7.6 and 2.4, thus making them actually a 100 point system ranging from 0.1 to 10.0. Luckily, if a person starts with a 100 point system, they generally don’t do decimals (unless you are handing out grades and want to really rub it into the kid’s face that a 92 is an A and they got a 91.9, a B). Really though, most of these systems exist almost entirely to attempt to set expectations. If a movie review site uses a 5 star scale, 3 usually means “like”, 4 “really like” and 5 is “love”.

But I’m all about managing expectations, and large systems (even as large as 5) start to set them for me. A 5 star film isn’t going to be just good, it’s going to be great. A 1 star film isn’t just bad, it’s awful! And it happens with every scale.

And then you run into other people wanting to fiddle with your system. Tons of game sites rate on a 10 point or 100 point scale, but the vast majority of their scores will be in the 7-9/70-90 range. They save the top score for the absolute best games, and everything below 7/70 is complete trash, and even mediocre games get a “C”. I’m sorry, but on a scale of 1 to 10, 5 is the middle, the average, the “meets some minimum level of entertainment but I didn’t really enjoy it”. You wouldn’t know that from the way most sites work.

A Simpler System

For me, however, I prefer a binary system, a scale from 0 to 1. If I enjoyed something and would recommend it to other people it gets a 1. If I didn’t enjoy it and wouldn’t recommend it to other people it gets a 0. No fractions.

Of course, that’s just the score. Any long review would get into exactly why I liked it, and what sort of people I think would also like it. Or it would discuss why I think the thing failed for me, and perhaps try to understand what sort of people might enjoy this, because you have to assume if someone takes the time to make something they must intend for someone else out there to like it.

I’ve written about this before. In fact, twice before. At a glance, I need only one piece of information: did you like it. Then, based on that I can decide if I want to read your full review. More so, if I’ve read a bunch of your reviews in the past and I have a general sense of “if he likes it, then I like it” I may not even need to read every review. I can shorthand. If I’ve heard about a game and think I will like it and I see that a reviewer I generally agree with also liked it, I can pretty safely purchase it and avoid the possibility of getting spoilers in a review. On the other hand, if there is a game I’ve heard of and think I will like and that reviewer says he didn’t like it, now I definitely want to read his review because maybe there’s something I need to know.

Got it in 1

In the past, I’ve toyed with ratings systems on reviews here. I even invented a 13 point system just so that a 7 would be the middle/average score. And I’ve thrown out ratings systems, insisting that the review is the only thing that matters. In the future, I’m going to implement my more simple 0 & 1 system.

Now I just need to make some nifty graphics for my new rating system, and they need to be self-explanatory because I don’t want any passing creator see that I’ve given them a 1 and think I’m saying they suck.

The New New Google

If you haven’t noticed, Google has been revamping their look. Unifying the feel of all their sites. So far, I like it, with my only real complaint being the over abundance of white space. Luckily, most of the apps offer the ability to select a “compact” look that eliminates much of that, squeezing everything in closer together. These days, I prefer whenever possible to hang out over on Google+ instead of Facebook, largely because of its much cleaner look and lack of crap I don’t like.

But all isn’t roses in the land of search and honey. Google’s latest moves have started to bother me. The first being the new YouTube. The pages for any individual video is much improved. It’s cleaner, nicer, and with the new size buttons of regular, large and full screen, it simplifies in all the best possible ways. Which makes the atrocity of their main page such a disheartening failure. I used to be able to quickly review my subscriptions while scrolling, but now, with one or two prolific video posters (I’m looking at you machinima!) my front page is pretty just one or two people, with the odd other video thrown in. Maybe it’ll grow on me, but I don’t see how.

Rolling out to select people now but eventually to everyone is the new Google Bar. Not one of those you install on your browser, but that black bar that has existed at the top of the majority of Google pages for a while now. A short while ago, probably prepping for the new bar, they juggled the apps around. Now that you can see the new design, the reorder of the apps remains. I’m certain that somewhere is a guy at Google who has lots of metrics that informed on which apps made the cut of being on the first level and which ones got hidden behind the “more” entry, at least I hope there is so that I have someone to properly hate.

The New New Google

It's sort of like an upside-down Start Button in Windows.

You see, one of the apps I use all the time is Google Reader (RSS feeds are awesome!) and when they performed their juggling act, Reader dropped off the main app selection. And with this latest revision, Calendar didn’t make the cut. It’s just insanity that Google hasn’t yet, even back in the black bar days, implemented a way to let each user decide the order of apps.

The new prime apps are Google+, Search, Images, Maps, YouTube, News, Gmail and Documents. To begin with I use Google+ a bunch, probably keep it open most of the day. Next I literally cannot recall the last time I when to the Search main page with the intent to search. I go there to see the new logos. (To be fair, I use Bing now for searching just because I earn points that I can spend on Xbox Live spacebucks, so when I used the Chrome address bar to search it goes to Bing, but before that it used Google, and I still can by typing “g” and a space then my search query.) Same with Images, since it’s basically search – I usually just do a regular web search (from the address bar) and then click the image link on the left of the results. Or, you know, I type “i” followed by a space in the address bar, which is my short cut to image searches at Google. I use maps, but not very often. I do use YouTube quite a bit. News works like Search and Images, “n” followed by a space in the address bar. Gmail and Documents are both deserving. So of the 8, I’ve identified 4 that could easily move beneath the “more” and I’d barely notice.

Meanwhile, I use Music every couple of days, Calendar daily, and Reader I use easily 4 or 5 times a day. And yet, with the new design, I have to click the Google icon on the new bar, then hover over the “More” entry and then select my app. Or I ignore the menu altogether just use the address bar to pull up the site. Maybe I’m just not the target audience. I don’t know.

Anyway, enough rambling out of me, though I do hope they allow for some customization soon.