Thursday, December 6, 2007

Two Worlds: Challenging Oblivions Domination of the RPG World?

For a long time, Bethseda has held control of having the best single player RPG (role playing game) on xbox 360 as well as one of the best RPG's on computer. Finally a game has came along to at least put up a challenge.

Recently, I saw a game in best buy on the xbox 360 shelf. The case caught my eye so I looked into it a little further. The name was Two Worlds. Reading the back I come to find out this is a new game, very simillar to the Elder of the Scrolls: Oblivion. But wait...why would a company just make an identical game of Oblivion. Exactly. They wouldn't. So what sets Two Worlds apart? Aside from completely different storyline, Two Worlds has created an online multiplayer part of the game. Their multiplayer allows players to play in a room of 8 online to complete the storyline. It also has an online feature where you can duel other players.

Having played multiple RPGs, this pulls from my memory in two different places. The first place being Elder of the Scrolls for the vast majority of the gameplay and setup of the game. The second place being Diablo II for the multiplayer world of 8 players playing together in a free online game. Two Worlds perhaps is working to create a game combining the best "Two Worlds" of RPGs, Oblivion and Diablo II.

Pushing this type of gameplay, of course comes with some flaws in the beginning, such as online lag time. As well as, rough places in the game needing to be smoothed out. But given time, this game will become one of the greatest RPGs and will be on the same level of the Legendary games such as Diablo II and The Elder Scrolls Series.

Uncanny Valley

I was reading articles for my annotated bibliography, and I cam across one about androids. (Ishiguro, Hiroshi. "Interactive Humanoids and Androids as Ideal Interfaces for Humans." 2006 International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (2006): 2-9.) I looked at some of the pictures, and my first thought: "That's creepy."

Appropriately, those pictures were in the section about the so-called "uncanny valley". The uncanny valley refers to the feeling of revulsion when you see something that's almost, but not quite, human.

The idea behind the uncanny valley is that when you look at something obviously inhuman, the slight human-like characteristics stand out, and so you empathize with it. But when it becomes sufficiently human-like, the non-human characteristics stand out, creating a feeling of revulsion.

Interestingly, I've heard people refer to the uncanny valley when talking about the movie Beowulf, which is done entirely with CGI. Personally, I think they did a really good job making the humans look human, and there are few scenes where it really sticks out.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Oh the Memories

Over look at Tech Connections

and The Knowledge I Have Gained

So yea, I'll be honest, as fun as this weblogging has been for me, I have a strong feeling that I won't be keeping up my blog post after this semester has ended. I doubt I will be missed, but it was a lot of fun. I have learned a lot from this blogging experience, from learning how to write in html and how to make web pages and weblogs, to learning of all the new inventions and gadgets produced because of the exponential rate at which technology is growing and advancing.

Some of the things that I have learned as I read my fellow bloggers is the new advancements in games. I love how well video games systems have both created better versions of old games, showing some classic view of game making, while also coming out with new ideas and innovations with graphics and controls to create a new environment to play in. I love learning and revisiting old games that old bloggers have wrote about, such as Golden Sun or Super Smash Brothers.

I have also learned a great deal about computers and the Internet. I have read some good articles about piracy and music downloads, to the plethora of information that can be found through Wikipedia. I have found articles about cell phones and power that runs through them. There are articles I have come across that teach of AI advancements and robots of the future. There are articles out there about our every increasing need of new fuel sources and advancement with power efficiency. So many talk about the advancements of gadgets and everyday items.

Lastly I was able to see how far we have come in regards to how far along we were 100, 50, 20, and even 5 years ago. So many, including myself, have written about how far along technology has come and how fast the growth has come. From communication through phones and the internet to advancements in biology, chemistry, and science itself. What people envisioned the "future" to be 50 years ago is an understatement of what is here today.

Over all technology is a good thing. It challenges mankind to fix problems of the past and to solve problems that come about. It keeps people happy and makes lives for people easier. It helps the sick, the poor, the young, the old. Technology betters everyone. Does that mean everyone has to love technology? No, this is my bias opinion and I'm not preaching to the choir or anything. Just stating that without technology we would not be in such a great state if we didn't expand our knowledge and continue to push the limit.

Thanks everyone for reading, it has been a pleasure writing on this blog. I hope the best for all of you in the future and hope that technology continues to better your lives.

Peace out Michael!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

We're Living in the Future

We're living in the future.

On a message board I frequent, someone asked if we would be living in a science fiction future by 2050. But think about it, we're living in a science fiction future right now.

Yeah, we don't have flying cars, and probably never will. But look at all the 1950s predictions that we far surpassed. The black and white picture is the envisioning of a 2004 computer. My cell phone probably has more computer power than what they imagined would be possible.

Speaking of cell phones, now, they're smaller than the communicators used in the original Star Trek, and most even have voice features, so you can tell it who to call by saying their names, rather than dialing a number, like in Star Trek.

And then, the internet. A few authors came up with something vaguely like it. But I don't think any of them realized just how significant it would be. Because of the internet, I regularly interact with people on other continents, in real time. Without the internet, that would be unthinkable.

(The comic is from Questionable Content)

Unsung Technology: Paper

We use paper everyday, and yet hardly ever think about it.

Before paper was invented, papyrus and parchment were used to write things down. Papyrus can only be grown in tropical regions, and isn't durable. Parchment is expensive and takes a long time to make. That's why paper replaced those, but not why it's significant, as papyrus and parchment still work fine for writing on; the Great Library of Alexandria used only papyrus.

The true significance of paper is only realized when machinery starts becoming commonplace. A printing press works better with paper than with papyrus or parchment, and we all know the significance of the printing press.

Also, with the industrial revolution, paper manufacturing could be made to speed up the production of paper. This made paper cheap. Not just cheaper than parchment, but "an ordinary person can buy books" cheap. This improved the literacy rate and allowed for more uses of paper. For example, toilet paper. This cheapness, also allowed for paper money to be used.


I have a new addiction, and its name is Stronghold. I was introduced to the game by my brother over Thanksgiving break. It was made in 2001, and its graphics were probably state of the art at the time. Even by today's standards, they're still pretty good.

The game's concept is to build a medieval castle, and defeat your enemy. You have to make buildings to gather resources, construct walls and towers, and recruit troops. Unlike most RTS games, construction is immediate, which although not exactly realistic, it is very convenient. Most of the rest of the game however stresses realism. Unlike in games like Age of Empires, in which you spend food to get a unit, and then that unit never eats again, in Stronghold, your people need food at a constant rate. Also, the game shows just how powerful fortifications are. There is a significant for firing arrows from a height, so a small force of arches stationed on top of walls and towers can defend against a group of archers twice as large.

One of the most important aspects of the game is popularity. Your popularity determines whether civilians will want to stay and work at your castle. Civilians are necessary, because they're the one gathering resources, and they're who you recruit from if you need more soldiers. There are many factors that determine popularity. If you have a lot of food, you can give your peasants extra rations, which will make them happier. If you don't have much food, you can put them on half rations, which will make them unhappy, but will conserve what you have. Another is the tax rate, which can go from "Downright cruel taxes" to "Generous bribe". Yeah, if you're unpopular, and you have a lot of money, you can pay your peasants to work for you. I've never seen another game where tax rate can go negative. As can be expected, the higher the taxes, the more unhappy your peasants are, but the more money you get, which is necessary to recruit soldiers and build military buildings. Those are the two most important factors that affect popularity, though there are many more.

Although the game has multiplayer and scenarios, there is also a main campaign. Not unusually, but rather disappointingly, the campaign is very static. You have to win every mission, and what you do in a mission doesn't affect anything that happens later in the campaign. The plot is that a while ago, the king led a failed invasion and was captured. Then, several powerful lords rose up and divided the kingdom into their own domains. You work for a group of rebels still loyal to the king. As the game progresses, you attack and eventually defeat the various lords.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Possibly Maximizing Laptop Usage With One Cable

Recently, I have been in a search for a way to use my laptop, for it's screen, and hook up my xbox to it. For me this would save lots of space, and allow me to be less dependent when I am taking xbox. This would mean I wouldn't have to make sure I was taking a TV with me.

It took me a while searching the Internet to find anything in the area of connecting a laptop and a xbox. Then in one of my searches, I came upon an eBay page selling a 4 Pin S-Video TV to 3 RCA AV Adapter, which makes me think my idea is possible. However, for now, I can't say for sure that connecting a laptop to an xbox would work, but I am still searching. If anyone knows if this can work, or if they have tried it and it didn't work, then please tell me what you tried.