The ramblings of a stark raving lunatic follow...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Someone pointed out Pandora on one of those "what are you listening to" forum threads. Well shit. This has got to be the coolest music-related thing around.

'bout goddamned time

So after scrounging around through my collection of old important documents (ie, a lot of packratty junk), I managed to find an old unofficial transcript from AU, and some bank statements from the second half of '02. Hit the driving center, got mylicense converted. Mind you, my DC license expires in about 32 days.

Now I gotta get around to relearning stick.

Monday, November 28, 2005

On staying informed

So it's come to my attention that over the weekend, there were 178 young ladies doing some belly-dancing shit at Sentosa. Something about the Guinness Book or some such inconsequential drivel.

One hundred and seventy eight women. In belly-dancer outfits. Where the fuck was I?!

See, people need to start telling me about this sort of shit.

(Okay. Blogger needs a simple way to define custom smilies or something. An STR_REPLACE equivalent or some other such thing definable by the user. Using img tags for smilies fucking blows)

(Come to think of it. *wanders off to ponder on sticking some extra PHP in the template for that purpose*)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Momentary lapse into soppiness

While my disappearance from AIM might suggest otherwise, I really do miss you guys. Just thought I'd put that out there.

Oh yeah...

Musta forgotten to mention. I start school in January. ^_^

America's Army unveiled as training tool

at the recent Serious Games Summit in Washington, DC, the Army showed off a new use for its computer game - training soldiers for combat.

US army cuts teeth on video game.

Eh? When I saw this linked on ActionTrip earlier today, I thought someone had screwed up and mistakenly dug up an old article. Call me cynical, but I'm a little confused by this for various reasons. For one, America's Army (hereon referred to as AA) was released to the public over three years ago, and was backed by a veritable war machine of PR and hype. Granted, it was ostensibly a recruitment tool (though didn't they initially go to great pains to refute those claims?), but you'd think that with the amount of money the Army threw at the development, you'd think that the idea of "training tool" would have surfaced a little earlier.

I suppose one way of looking at this, is that the three some years that the game has been in civilian hands has been a key part of the development cycle in and of itself, with each release equated to a development alpha, allowing the team to add and tweak gameplay aspects, as well as technical issues like network stability. Even with that in mind, it still seems a little odd, given that the game was always just that: a game. Which brings me to my other point.

I recall downloading AA on release day, and stepping through the compulsory training provided, before hopping on a server and playing a few rounds. What struck me was that, for an officially-Army-backed shooter, it sure didn't feel very realistic. Aside from the annoyingly training-safety-centric drills that have no place in a combatzone, like looking down from your target in order to visually ascertain that yes, I'm actually switching the fire selector from "Semi" to "Burst". For all the realism claims, sniper training was certainly a breeze. Well, once I realized that I didn't have to compensate for bullet drop from a 7.62mm NATO round at over 500 meters, anyway.

Over the years, the team appears to have looked into the more game-centric conventions like bunny-hopping, but at last check (which was, admittedly over a year ago) it still appeared to play much like a video game. Now, unless the team has a separate build that's been developed in parallel with the civilian builds, I don't particularly see how valuable the game would be as a military training tool. The money being poured into development, and the equipment they're using to retrofit field-ready gear for use in the game (which isn't a new idea or implementation by any stretch) seems like it would be better suited to one of the already-available COTS solutions on the market. I mean, the features they've touted aren't exactly earth-shattering technological revelations. Virtual Battlespace 1 (VBS1) in particular, which is currently in use by the USMC and ADF among others, comes to mind. DARPA is starting to use Operation Flashpoint as the basis for training scenarios, in particular convoy ambushes (which you'll note is the primary scenario mentioned in the BBC article), especially since a vast amount of theatre-relevant end user-created content is readily available.

Then again, I guess the Army have their pride to worry about. And a whole lot of money to throw around. COTS just seems like the more sensible solution. I mean, Full Spectrum Warrior as the basis of a training module to teach interpersonal interaction with local populace? The jarheads got it right when they licensed There some time back for just that purpose.

Honestly. Quit trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole, and remember that you're supposed to be trying to keep your men and women alive.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

On Time Travel

So IGN recently stuck up a review of Operation Flashpoint: Elite, the long-awaited port of the military simulator developed by Bohemia Interactive for the PC and released back in 2001. Unsurprisingly, it reads like a stinking pile of turd.
Operation Flashpoint was an awesome game for the PC... in 2001. Nearly six years later, Codemasters brings what was onc

Whoa, back up a bit there. Did he say six years? Fuck me, if writing for IGN gets me a time machine, I'm in. Unless it also means I give up the ability to count:
The player models' faces are made up of about four triangles

If that's the case, I truly have to tip my hat to BIS. As a 3D artist myself, I bow to their artists. I mean, them's some damn fine lookin' four tris:

Really, though. What the hell is the editing team's job if they aren't out vetting through reviews before they go up? I mean, simple glaring factual errors like, y'know, timelines?

Gamespy also put up its review of the game, and, well, no surprise once again. For whatever reason, the reviewer constantly hammers home the point that the game won't appeal to casual gamers (and lists it as a con, to boot). Uh, no shit, Sherlock. It's a combat simulator. Never purported to be any different.

Both the Gamespy and IGN review also repeatedly mention the piss-poor graphics. I dunno, maybe my expectations are really low, but I reckon the game looks great. Especially when you take into account the huge landscape, long draw distances (I believe it averages around 1km on the XBox), and sheer scale of the typical encounters. I mean, hell, a couple of the single missions involve company-plus-level combined arms assaults. Now I dunno about you, but to me, that's a whole hell of a lot of manpower and hardware running around. Outside of the heavily-scripted (and therefore by definition much less dynamic) CoD:UO, I don't believe I've ever seen anything on that level in a video game. Certainly not on the hardware-strapped XBox. The four islands included in the game collectively cover about 100 square kilometers, if memory serves. Shit, you could probably fit all the maps that ship with Battlefield 2 into Nogova alone and still have enough room left over for a large scale tank battle.

But really, it's the overall experience that has truly sold the game for me. No XBox here, but I'll attest to the topnotchedness (I don't have an editor to answer to ^_^) of the original game released over four years ago. Crazy experiences in-game that I can still recall to this day, like the one ridiculously tense mission where, completely alone, you have to navigate your way across over what must have been 20km of Russian-occupied Everon. Or another where, once again completely alone, you have to navigate another insane distance, but this time sans compass. I later learned that for those whose astral navigation skills were up to snuff, it was actually possible to navigate by the stars. The level of detail in the game still amazes me to this day (Elite apparently has rainbows after a storm... I think that's just nifty).

Then once the Resistance expansion was released, I found out first hand how much of a gameplay-difference (as opposed to simply cosmetic) the higher terrain resolution afforded, with its subtle dips and rises, when my squad ran headlong into a Russian patrol in the middle of what I had sworn a minute before was a completely clear stretch of plains. So yeah, it's the miriad memorable experiences that really make the game. In response to a recent post on the official forums asking why Flashpoint couldn't be like Call of Duty, Scars09 gave this beautiful little ditty, summing up what truly makes the game unique:
...and then there is ofp. did you ever missed the combatzone in coop cause you take the wrong road? i did, had a great sunset at the beach of malden while my teammates where fighting at the other end of the island. no action, but it happend over four years ago, and i still remember the sunset.

By all accounts, the game is really about as anti-war as a combat simulation can get. Hell, half the time I load up the game, I fire up the mission editor and go sightseeing:

Note the 5km draw distance.

So yeah. There's my vote for the game. Now go get it. ^_^

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Huayu Cool*
*Translated as "Mandarin is Cool."

Okay, so maybe it's just me, but that just seems like the most inane name for a campaign to encourage the use of mandarin.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Sitting at an internet cafe at one of the malls right now, checking emails and whatnot. Figured I might as well drop off a quick post. So this place is pretty amazing. It's also one hell of a city of contrasts. It's been a while since I've seen such incredibly contrasting social imagery, but here it is. Run down homes, abject poverty, and right next to that, a brand spanking new, beautifully designed and constructed, private condominium. And a block further down, yet another run down shanty of a home.

Might hit the shooting range tomorrow, assuming the ammo is priced okay. Took a look at the brochure for the range at the military base, and those fuckers really know how to make a buck. 50 rounds of what looks to be 9mm going for 3000 Baht. @_@ If you want an SMG (looks like they have Uzis and Ingrams), that 3000 Baht will only get you 30 rounds. o_O Anyways, I'm hoping the range in town (I would assume it'd be an indoor pistol range) is a little more reasonable and less touristy.

Right, I'm out. Not too keen on actually paying for timed internet access. :p I'll have pics when I'm back.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Note to self:

Use the goddamned sunblock next time, jackass!


Look at all them purty colours, George!

It's funny. It's only been in the last, I dunno, week or so, that I've come to fully appreciate the almost completely unobstructed view I have of the western horizon.

edit: Goddammit, I'm still using American spelling. o_O

A Sound of Thunder (vids are up)

No, I refer not to the recently released (and by all accounts awful) dinosaur movie. Neither do I refer to the excellent Bradbury short story. I just spent the last half an hour or so in complete and utter awe of what must be, bar none, the most incredible light show I have ever witnessed. I was, as always, working late, and kept seeing flashes of lightning out of the corner of my eye. It only occured to me as I was getting ready to hit the sack that there was nought the sound of thunder. None whatsoever (*hhhwat'soevah*). Popped my head out my window, then promptly grabbed my Treo and ran out to the dining area, where I have a completely unobstructed view of the western horizon, and started recording. For what I saw from my window, was simply the biggest fucking electrical storm I could never imagine. All over, too. East, west, south (if I had a view of the north, I'm sure I'd have seen more).

Fireworks? Pfft. Solar eclipse? Meh. Meteor showers? Please. This is where it's at. Shit, I think this trumps that amazing suunset I was raving about not one week ago. What looked to be an only somewhat cloudy sky was revealed to be great thick masses of cloud cover with each lightning strike (and I use the term "strike" only because I can't think of a better one; remember that this was all taking place what looked like many miles above the earth). Huge swaths of sky lit up each time. Incredibly beautiful cloud formations. Light and shadow interplayed amazingly. Every so often, I'd actually see great long arcs of lightning; vertical, diagonal, fucking horizontal. Absolutely awe-inspiring. The beauty of it was that all this time, aside from the birds and random sounds of goddamned noisy motorbikes, the entire affair was completely and utterly silent.

Once I get these vids converted to a multiplatform-viewable format, I'll put 'em up.

Goddamned Opera keeps eating my blog entries. This would be the second time. First time round I nearly had a heart attack when the above entry came up blank. Thank god for Opera's method of caching pages in their entirety. Too bad I closed the tab after posting the recent update. o_O Note to self: remember to use Firefox for blog entries. o_O

Right, the videos. Not the most amazing quality. They were, after all, taken with my Treo. And subsequently compressed. And reduced from 352x288 to 320x240 (I couldn't get my convertor to not reduce the size, for some cockamamie reason). So yeah. But they get the general idea across of what the entire spectacle looked like. I didn't bother to edit them for length, so there's random dead space where nothing much is going on, but sit through them. They're rather nifty. :) Oh, the first one's in color, and the subsequent two are in sepia, since it takes better low-light shots in that mode than in color or b&w. Oh yes, no preview thumbs. This not being able to conveniently take screencaps of DirectDraw overlays is annoying. Anyways.

Light show 1 (3:40, 1.59MB)
Light show 2 (3:56, 1.16MB)
Light show 3 (9:18, 2.76MB)

All three are at 320x240, XVid MPEG-4. If anyone wants to convert to QT, feel free. I don't have anything handy that'll export to QT, and I've never had much luck with the codec with regards to quality v compression.

Enjoy! :)