The 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.
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!)
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.
Man, 0. Wife, 1.
(Wife: I win!)
Here we see the board with all its plastic pieces attached.
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.
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.
In MMOs, I am a strong advocate of grouping. However, even though I often think that people who want to play a game with thousands, or millions, of other people and NOT play with them is a bit silly, I’ve never faulted a game for allowing that style of play (though I will fault them for making solo play the “best” way to play in every aspect – I’m looking at you, World of Warcraft, you and your game from level 1 to 85). I am, at the core, all about options.
That would be why this makes me so mad. Plenty of people out there use multiple social networks, and to make things easier they try to link them together so they can make one update and have it show up everywhere. Facebook has decided that they would like to marginalize certain types of this synchronizing. If I click that link that says “See 19 more posts from Twitter” it will expand and show me around 2 days worth of Twitter updates, completely out of their proper order in my feed.
Now, I understand, on some level, what Facebook is trying to achieve. People who play games are often inundated with “spam” from those games and so Facebook decided it would try to clean things up by grouping updates from Applications. Twitter is an Application.
The fault here is that there is no option to not group updates from Applications. This is what I get, forced grouping.
There are solutions. I can use an application like TweetDeck, which posts the same update to multiple sources directly. But then I need to install TweetDeck everywhere, including my phone, in order to get the same functionality. But that only solves it for my updates. The dozens of other people I know who use the Twitter Application will continue to be grouped. It would be better if Facebook game me the option to choose if Applications were grouped. Better still, let me choose per Application if I want their updates grouped.
Hopefully, Facebook will get their heads out of their asses at some point and fix this. If they don’t, it’ll just be one more reason I find myself drifting away from Facebook…
Really like zombie survival games but tired of so many of them being shooters?
Project Zomboid might be right up your alley. An isometric RPG set in the zombie apocalypse. Build defenses, search for food, fight zombies. Decidedly hardcore (they maintain that you WILL die eventually, there is no “winning” or happily ever after), this game of shambling undead is one I’ll be keeping an eye on, which shouldn’t be too hard considering they’ve got the game blog plus three developer blogs and a forum.
With any luck the game will support some form of multiplayer, which might end up making it the game I’ve always wanted to play.
This is my one-thousand three-hundred thirteenth post on this blog. My name is Jason, also the name of the star of the Friday the 13th series of movies. My wife was born on the 13th of March. Back in the days when I managed a video store, my own personal account listed my address as “1313 Mockingbird Lane”, an address made famous by the Munsters. My favorite holiday is Halloween, which is on the 31st, which is 13 in reverse. And if you are into that sort of thing, you might know that we are currently living in the 13th b’ak’tun, which will draw to a close toward the end of 2012, which may or may not be a significant thing. Thirteen has always been a good and lucky number for me.
I don’t believe in signs, though I see them everywhere. The fact is, you can do it with any number. If you decide that 27 is your lucky number, you’ll suddenly begin noticing all the 27s that appear in your life. You’ll even being doing things that force 27s into your life. I know a person whose lucky number is 14, and while 14s do randomly appear in her life she also makes a number of decisions based on 14s. If offered two options, one that contains a 14 and one that does not, she’ll choose the 14 and see it as being a sign when she could easily have chosen the other. Personally, I try not to make decisions based on 13s, and yet, here I am, rambling about 13s in post 1313 on my blog.
3" by 3" by 3" of literal inspiration
Borders is closing a bunch of book stores. (Yeah, I’m done with 13s and moving along with no segue at all.) Of all the brick and mortar stores around they’ve been my favorite because of their finer separation of categories, specifically in having a horror section as opposed to splitting up horror between mystery, sci-fi/fantasy and general fiction. They also have a location that shares a building with a movie theater I frequent. When we go to a movie, we always end up browsing before and sometimes after, and often end up buying a book or two (or five or ten). The only good thing about the store closings are the discounts. Lately, paperback books haven’t been seeing much of a discount on Amazon. A $6.99 mass market paperback will be $6.99 on Amazon, so picking them up in a store can actually be better, especially if you have the store discount card and get 10% off everything. With the store closings, most stuff is 25% off already, and they are still honoring the store discount card, so it makes picking up a few paperbacks a good deal. And of course, a sale means more serious browsing, looking for books you might not normally buy at all but will if it’s 50% off. I bought The Writer’s Block (pictured). I promise to use it and post the results. Despite my good fortune with the sale, the closing Borders locations will be missed, and since the only remaining Atlanta locations are the ones that are too far away for a casual visit, Borders may have lost me as a customer for good, and that is a shame.
A few weeks ago I went to a place called Hemingway’s down at the Marietta Square to see a band called 7 sharp 9. With no expectations at all, I was fairly well blown away by their performance. Being a band playing in a bar, they primarily stuck to playing great bar band music, rock favorites from various decades. They played well and even threw in a few twists, the biggest surprise being a mash up of Prince’s Kiss and Sir Mix-a-lot’s Baby Got Back. Even the smattering of original tunes they played (just one per set) were good enough that we picked up copies of all three of their albums. They made a fan out of me in just one night. It looks like they’ll be back at Hemingway’s in April and I plan to be there to see them again. To the right is a very short video of them playing a cover of Blister in the Sun at a bar in Destin, FL.
I’ve been writing for Shakefire for a bit over a month now and I’m enjoying it. Links to what I’ve written can be found each week in my A Week of Tweets posts on Sundays. So far I’ve had the good fortune of enjoying everything I’ve reviewed for one reason or another, but I fear that is going to end this week as the next two CDs I’ve been listening to for review have been uninspiring and borderline awful. I don’t like giving bad reviews but I like being dishonest less, so I’ll probably be lambasting a couple of artists and then maybe I can get back to stuff I enjoy.
And finally, is you have a few dollars you can spare, or even if you have a few dollars you think you can’t spare, consider tossing them toward the Red Cross for their efforts in Japan. Every dollar helps, and with the earthquake, the tsunami, the nuclear power plant, the aftershocks, the volcano… they can use all the help they can get right now.
So, being a rogue who doesn’t kill things can be very hard. Not only because people are constantly asking you to kill things, but even when they don’t want you to kill them they sometimes just want you to beat them up, just a little. And let me tell you, fighting with a fishing pole is not easy. Well, unless you get a big fishing pole.
It turns out that in Duskwood there might be a crazy worgen who needs my help, and after they promise me I won’t have to kill him, I agree to go beat him up a little and then shove a potion down his throat. I mean, I don’t want to kill people, but I’m not against applying a little pressure, for the greater good, of course. I head down to the farm where this guy is hanging out and he jumps me. I take a few swipes with my rod and reel, the only weapon I have, and he’s just not having it. I run off to save my own ass from a beat down.
I make my way back to Stormwind to unwind at the Pig and Whistle, and to do a little cooking and fishing to calm my nerves. I gather my daily fish catch and go to see what they’ll give me for it and I’m shocked when I get handed this ugly, gaudy, horrendous looking fishing pole. The thing looks like a goblin made it. Covered in gems and sparkling like the sun, I can barely stand to look at it, but I can’t look away. But I pick the thing up, trying not to show the disgust on my face, and I nearly drop it due to the weight. I break out in a smile that practically outshines this gods forsaken rod.
Yes, those are wings. It has two of them.
I head back to Duskwood and down to the farm, the worgen jumps me again and I brain him with my new fishing pole. His tongue hangs out the side of his mouth and he is probably seeing stars as I shove the potion down his gullet. I collect my rewards, I do a few more deeds for the local, and as they increasingly keep asking me to kill things I bid farewell to that dark and musty forest.
Armed with my new (ugly) rod and a 300 fishing skill, I decide to go find Booty Bay and see how I can do in the fishing contest there. After one attempt, I realize it’ll be a while (and a flying mount) before I can seriously compete for the grand prize, but I spend some time fishing and chatting with the people, and hoping to pull up one of those rare fish the robot is looking for. I don’t, but there is always next week. And the week after that. And the week after… well, you get the idea.
Everybody look at me 'cause I'm sailing on a boat.
I always hated Thousand Needles because the race track was just so stupid. Some people think Cataclysm has done a lot wrong with World of Warcraft, but look at me… I’m on a boat.
The last time I wrote about my worgen it was over here, January 14th and I’d just made my way out of the starter zone which left me at level 12 or 13, I forget. Maybe it was 14. Doesn’t matter. What matters is that as of last weekend, just five weeks later, I’m level 47. Sure, you say, “Five weeks?! Why aren’t you at, like, 70?” but keep in mind, this is 47 without really trying. I’ve spent much more time on my rogue who doesn’t kill, and so really this is level 47 in a total of 72 hours played. And at least half of that is standing around chatting with people, role playing and browsing the auction house. I’ve made it to level 47, heard the DING! of a level gained 46 times and I feel absolutely no sense of accomplishment whatsoever. Every time the rogue makes a level I feel like I’ve conquered something, like I’ve crested another hill. With the worgen, it’s more like, “Shit… I leveled again? Didn’t I just level like twenty minutes ago? Well, fuck, all my quests are green, and where did all the exclamation points go? Did I outlevel another quest hub before I finished it?” I feel like I’m missing the game, like I’m being pushed toward some end game, hurried along so that I don’t have a chance to get bored or to notice whether or not I’m actually enjoying playing.
In a few levels I won’t have anything left worthwhile in Thousand Needles. The kills will be trivial, and the quests will be all gone, and the only real herb here is Stranglekelp, which gains me no skill and people aren’t even paying much for these days, but I suspect that I’ll return here because it’s the only place my River Boat works. And ultimately this is where my biggest conflict with WoW comes in… there are some really cool and awesome places in this world, and you don’t get to stay there. Why can’t I spend my days on the river fighting pirates and monsters? I mean, I suppose I could, but the game doesn’t support it. There are daily quests for fishing and cooking and other things, but why doesn’t each quest hub have a couple of dailies to making hanging around even mildly interesting and rewarding?
Not to go off on a tangent, but face it – this entire post is a tangent (a nice Friday sojourn off into rant land), but with the advent of the daily quest, why isn’t this mechanic used everywhere? We all know that killing monsters is a pointless pursuit in WoW, they’ve hamstrung the exp on them so much, and quests are where the action is, and daily quest exp scales with level, so why not have a handful of quests in every hub where you can get one or two a day and continue to level doing whatever the hell you want?
No. Instead, I have to make yet another zone useless and leave it to probably never return. The empty husk of a world that necessitated The Cataclysm in the first place.