Off the Grid

In response to “Cluster Fun” from The Escapist Forum: Bah, Richard Florida. In Rise of the Creative Class, he suggested that cities with higher percentages of gay citizens would be more ‘creative’. Oh, and also more hippies.

After many large N.A. population centers tried and failed to build their own Greenwich Villages and Yonge & Wellesleys in a misguided attempt to level up their city culture, Florida moved on to writing expensive, nebulous proposals full of helpful infrastructure suggestions that don’t actually suggest anything in particular.


I think many people underestimate the need to be face to face on creative projects.

Living and working in Australia, it’s always amazing how much difference face to face contact with publisher based producers is so much more productive than phone, video and email contact.

You can sit down with someone and show them something, they can give instant feedback, you can even punch them in the throat if their suggestions are stupid.



In response to “Bushido and Beamsabers” from The Escapist Forum: I agree with Anoctris that the article probably goes a little overboard on Samurai/Mecha romanticism (which I say, even though I myself am a mecha fan 😛 )

Glorifying needlessly complicated control schemes is the true fault of the article though. Which is odd because Virtual On is mentioned without identifying why that series was so damn popular: it was simple to learn, but had deep gameplay. That’s the holy grail of gaming!

Also Armored Core isn’t quite what I’d consider “welcoming” to new players. Even as someone who wants to enjoy mecha games, I just couldn’t get into the series for its awkward controls.

If more mecha games had Virtual On’s combination of accessibility and depth, they’d be a lot more popular with the Western audience. Maybe not as popular as more realistic games (because western culture still scoffs at the inherent inefficiencies of giant, walking tanks) but quite a bit more popular than they currently are.


I think people love mecha games because it lets you pretend like you’re something larger then life. In a mecha game you can battle to the destruction of your mech, then eject and live to fight another day. Also, with mecha combat the battle can seem more intense and longer with a larger focus on skill and training, not impersonal things like luck and strategy. In a mech you won’t die from a single bullet to the head. Your skill in piloting the mech and ability to properly gear your mech for the fight will decide who wins. It’s a romanticizing of war. You can have all the glory of combat without the risk of death. That’s just not a Japanese thing that a human nature thing.

I’ll never forget in one of the battletech books “Ideal War” a couple of mech pilots get captured and one of the pilots has a nervous break down because he’s no longer safe “in his metal,” and can now face death and war upfront and personal. That’s what fantasying about being a mech pilot gives us. We can be a war hero but the chance of death in combat lowers incredibly. To the point where it’s no longer a factor in worrying about our survival.


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In response to “Two Worlds, One Game” from The Escapist Forum: More on topic, however, there have been quite a few fansubs higher in quality than official video game releases.

I liked the article, though I’m surprised at the omission of one of the largest challenges that faced translators back in the 16-bit era and prior: hardware. On top of the difficulties in conveying proper meaning and not just cranking out a literal translation, there were restrictions on the number of characters you could use in a given segment of text. Not to mention the fact that all the corner-cutting the programmers had to do also often resulted in getting incongruous text. A translator could be working on a segment from the beginning of the game and then next one from the ending.

Player One had a very enlightening interview with Ted Woolsey a few years ago on this topic and many others.

I also think another interesting discussion is in the advantages and disadvantages present in your source and target languages. For example, English has a rich array of dialect and accents that can be conveyed easily in text whereas Japanese is relatively congruous. A game like Chrono Cross had a variety of dialects in English that wasn’t really possible in the original Japanese.

Ultimately the only way to truly experience a game is to do so in its original language, but I think localization efforts, especially lately, are laudable.


What, no mention of Zero Wing at all…? I would’ve thought that this article would have at least touched upon one of the most famously poorly translated games of all time….

Yog Sothoth


In response to “Halo on the High Seas” from The Escapist Forum: There are very few things in life that I enjoy as much as Rome: Total War before bed!

In all seriousness, my youngest brother (the only hardcore multiplayer gamer in a family of fanatics) is currently studying at a maritime academy to join the merchant marine. I know one of the things that makes him sad about his chosen profession is giving up access to online games for long periods of time while he’ll be at sea — like all summer this year. Maybe I’ll point him toward this article for a few hints on surviving the droughts!


I’m a sailor and I can tell you it kinda sucks, but if he gets lucky he’ll end up on a ship where half the crew are gamers. The Alaskan Explorer, a ship with Alaska Tanker Company had two big screen TVs in each of the lounges, a wireless network throughout the ship, a tv in every room, and 360’s on both of the big screens.

Needless to say, it didn’t take much work to put 4 guys in each lounge, and then have anyone in their rooms jump on via the wireless. Now, this is a rare case, but those kinda ships are out there (usually they’re tankers. Tell him to stay the fuck away from Liberty ships, that company is pretty damn cheap).
I actually suggest a good gaming laptop. With his officer pay, a high end gaming laptop won’t even dent his bank account if he saves/spends intelligently. I’m only an unliscenced Oiler and even I just giggled like a school girl when I hit the “order” button. I have a Sager 9262 and a wired 360 gamepad, and I can play most of the big name 360 games on my laptop since the 360’s port to pc ratio is kinda retardedly high (almost to the point that it makes me wonder why the hell I got a 360 in the first place). A lot of guys out their bring laptops with them along with external hard drives (piracey ahoy!) and you’d be surprised how many of them are closet gamers. Apart from our 360 multiplayer matches, more than a few games of Counter Strike 1.6 were played on the ship computers (nothing like raging your Chief Engineer after constantly stabbing him in the face).

If he wants to drag out a console with him, he can, but I don’t really recommend it. Not until he gets steady work on one ship that he knows it’ll get used a lot on, otherwise a solid laptop is the way to go.

Oh and do remind him to bring a cross connect cable with him. Those things are handy at the strangest times. My usual “at work” loadout is: Laptop/Mouse/Cross Connect/External Hard Drive/In-Ear Speakers (I don’t like bringing out a headset since it’s just too damn big and I’ve never actually used the mic for anything), and I always just no-cd crack all my games that aren’t run via Steam.



In resposne to “The MMOG Connection” from The Escapist Forum: I would agree with Solipsis. It is a lot smarter to stop framing activities as being in ‘real life’ or ‘not real life’. Perhaps it would be more meaningful to distinguish activies as being leisure or non-leisure.

This is helpful because gamers and non-gamers spend our leisure time doing stuff they enjoy. It can include casual TV watching, scrapbooking or training for a marathon. These leisure activities can be more or less social or physically involved but generally none of them are any worse than the other.

When we place these activities on a level playing field then it just becomes a question of time. Leisure activities are perfectly harmless unless you’re doing them at the expense of the non-leisure activities which need to happen for you to live a functional life.

Obviously the definition of a “functional life” is subjective. And it is this subjectivity that makes the video game aspect entirely a non-issue. Gamers and non-gamers alike have ongoing negotiations with friends, spouses and employers about how we’re going to use our non-leisure time.


What’s ironic is that your experience in world of warcraft let you meet your current girlfriend, but your experience in everquest was a factor in your previous divorce. You can create connections, but you can also lose them due to the nature of the MMO itself.

There’s always the double-sided aspect to it, so it’s hard to really trumpet it.


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