Wednesday, April 29, 2015


I've just discoveredd that the CGI Voltron series from the late '90s, "Voltron in the Third Dimension," apparently has had a few episodes put on the official Voltron YouTube channel. (Complete, for some reason, with the test pattern-careful if you're wearing headphones or whatnot. What the heck, guys?)

While it's far from perfect, there's one reason it will forever hold a place in my heart as my personal favorite Voltron: Tim Curry voices Lotor. I don't recall if I've only said this to my sister or if I've mentioned it here, but I have said in the past that I'm pretty sure Tim Curry is the high point in Lotor's entire history.

-Signing off.

Monday, April 27, 2015


I have to say, the thing about this particular thing from the Lego Movie that makes me smile the most isn't actually the lyrics or over-the-top instrumentals, even though I quite like those.

No, it's the fact that the title is "Untitled Self Portrait." That is amazing.

-Signing off.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Great Martian War

A bunch of things I really like: History of the Great War (World War I; you can tell I'm a nerd because I call it that), War of the Worlds, mock documentaries, all of these things at the same time yes please.

This footage is apparently from some mockumentary that aired in Canada that used actual footage from the real war and something something don't care awesome.

I even particularly like the tripods. (Incidentally, I stumbled across this footage because the wonderful blog Monster Brains put up images from the original French printing of War of the Worlds. I saw one or two of those old pictures once and was fascinated, so it was really nice seeing the artwork at large sizes. There's also some neat surreal stuff, like a building with eyes for windows, that's from the same set of pictures.)

Of course, the thing is, from my perspective there's not actually any such thing as a "wrong" tripod. As long as they have three legs and thus are actually tripods, every tripod is a "right" tripod, and I love seeing every artist's take on the things.

There might be some tripods that are better than others, but no bad ones and I'm pretty sure I've never had a real favorite, either.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Sorry about dropping off the radar without warning-my internet connection inexplicably failed severely the other night, and when I was on yesterday, I managed to completely forget to at least blog to mention that.

So as an apology, here's an obscure Queen song embed.

My favorite thing about Queen is that something like half their songs sound like they're performed by different bands.

*From start to finish, there's something about this song that makes me think of video games. The word choice, the instrumentals, I don't know, it's just what I find myself thinking of.

Also, the fact that there's a song in the English language that contains the phrase "come to the ogre site" that isn't from the modern era of nerd songs makes me incredibly happy.

-Signing off.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#148)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)
The Less Massive Index (Posts #101-#110)
The Second Less Massive Index (Posts #111-#120)
The Third Less Massive Index (Posts #121-#130)

(Skipped giant [as a generic classification rather than a species, it doesn't belong on this list], two Monsters and Aliens from George Lucas species, and "harrower assassin," which describes a bioengineered weapon created from human Force-sensitives rather than a species.

Also, as you might be able to tell from this article spanning from "d" to "j," this article took forever to find the species for.

This article might be boring because of the sparsity of decent articles to draw from.)

1471. Dyclops. Okay, what do you expect when you read that name?

Do you expect some kind of stupid pun, like a two-headed being whose individual heads have one eye apiece?

If that's what you expected, then congratulations, because that's what we've got!

Rating: 1/5. ...It's not even the first time I've seen this basic pun in the last month or two.

1472. Elespads. Elespads are apparently little cloak-wearing elephant people.

As they were encountered in a particular old Star Wars video game, I'm under the impression they must in fact be dangerous as heck, because apparently in that particular game, virtually everything could instantly kill Luke by gently brushing against him.

Rating: 2/5, because I'm amused by the idea that the harmless-looking elephant guy in the picture is deadlier than a stormtrooper.

1473. Ertraxi. They exist? Probably?

Rating: 1/5.

1474. Gannymedans. This name is one of those names that made me think there must be a typo, but no, it's not even Gannymede, it's Gannymeda.


Rating: 1/5. There's literally nothing else about them.

1475. Globlours. "Considered unattractive" by humans, their society is apparently primitive and has primitive people traits.

Rating: 1/5. Meh.

1476. Glothians. ...Anybody here?

*crickets chirp*

Rating: 1/5. That's a lot of 1/5s from near-total lack of content or general stupidity in a row.

1477. Gorach. The Gorach apparently had an empire at some point. Gasp-an actual trait!

Wonder of wonders, we have an idea of what they look like-four-armed fangy alien gorillas-and other information, including a legend that they're immortal unless killed by violence. There must have been a whole lot of violence going on, because the Gorach were virtually extinct at the time of the story featuring them.

The last known individual of the species, an artist (?!), apparently survived the war that felled their empire by several thousand years, living on the Pa'Lowick homeworld and becoming a legendary figure in the minds of the locals. He lived until such time as a Hutt game hunter showed up and killed him for sport.

Rating: 4/5. I am surprised at the awesomeness, to be frank.

1478. Half-Bothans. The half-Bothans would presumably be half-Bothan, half-something-other-than-human, by virtue of the fact that they have satyr legs, which Bothans don't... except that they have more human-looking heads than Bothans are usually depicted as having. (Older art of Bothans actually gives them more human-like appearances, but...) They're also described as "ungulate," which is something Bothans aren't remotely.

Making things more bewildering, the guy who said "all point-eared species are Sephi or related to them" brought it up when asked about half-Bothans. The frick are you even talking about?! The "Sephi unification theory" doesn't make any sense at the best of times, and this is worse than most of the places I've seen the reference.

Rating: 1/5. The sad thing is, I prefer the more-human Bothans and I even prefer the vague possibility of human/Bothan interbreeding... but this doesn't even make sense in that context!

1479. J'feh. J'feh are pink-red octopodes who apparently tend to live in floating water-filled globes.

That's pretty awesome.

Rating: 4/5.

1480. Jashwik. The only known member of this species, Cody Sunn-Childe, apparently speculated that all Jashwik are Force-sensitive.

Cody Sunn-Childe himself certainly qualifies, apparently being magically invulnerable to flames and separating out his violent impulses into monsters (Arbrans, is that you?), which he then reabsorbed to protect others from their rampages, then summoning them again to attack an Imperial assault force, then, uh, doing something that let the Imperials kill him (and a bunch of other people) for the sake of his dedication to pacifism.

...Right then. I'm sure the Imperials got your point on pacifism.

Incidentally, the character design strikes me as a bit racist (again with the racism, huh?)

Rating: 1/5. If I seem a little negative about this article, it's because I am.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Finally Saw the LEGO Movie

I don't have much to say about it that can't be summed up by this song:

Well, okay, I can say that I remember the 1980s version of the space sets (I owned a lot of various bits of them and those astronauts dominated my minifigures, in fact), and so I thought Benny was a really great nod to the time period.

And that song of Batman's is also basically perfect.

-Signing off.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Game Reviews: Monstro: Battle Tactics

Monstro: Battle Tactics (Demo) is a simple turn-based strategy game where you control game piece-like units.

If you play a lot of games like this, you've probably seen it before; I haven't seen this precise setup, but that's only because I've never actually played a game like this with a second regenerating health bar representing how "armored" a unit is (which isn't to say I haven't seen the concept, it was just in some other type of game, or possibly something I came up with independently on my own at some point-I don't remember). But the idea is so simple and logical that I knew exactly how it would work as presented.

In fact, I have very little to nothing to say about the gameplay beyond "I'm not sure how you're supposed to play the levels with traps in them properly" because my units seem to refuse to attack when they land on trap squares, and there are places where this seems to give the computer an unfair advantage to the point of making the game unplayable because it doesn't seem to have the same problem.

But enough of that! I'm not here to talk about the gameplay, but the game's delightfully absurdist intro sequence.

While you're being presented with it, a narrator is reading it off in a top-notch deadpan with a delightful accent, and I heartily recommend taking a look at the game for the sake of the intro alone. It's pretty great.

So, to sum up, everybody's living happily, regardless of whether they're human or monster...

...but that would be boring, so some gamers showed up and ruined everything by making them fight each other.

And for whatever reason, they're actually fighting on tiny rectangles of ground floating in the sky.

And it's pretty darn awful.

I don't really have anything else to say.

-Signing off.

Friday, April 10, 2015


I've mentioned Earthsiege a few times on the blog, as a mecha-based game that I played a fair bit (as mentioned here, mostly in a cheat mode).

The premise of the game and the mecha designs* are things I largely enjoyed, but the thing that sticks out in my mind the most is the little movie that played whenever you died.

Now, it could be my mind playing tricks on me, but I'm nearly entirely certain that this video left out a shot of a surgical armature moving into position for the brain extraction. (Unfortunately, whenever you saw this animation during the campaign, it was actually a permadeath, which is part of why the campaign was all but unplayable.)

Of course, hilariously gross as your character ending up on a dissection table can be, this death movie's got nothing on the one from Star Crusader.

Explosive decompression for the grossout factor win.

Do they do "death movies" like this anymore? They weren't really that common back in the day that I recall, usually just some grim music and a game over card.

*The mecha designs are cleaner, more logical counterparts to the ones from the better-known Battletech/Mechwarrior franchise. The premise involved the player being part of the resistance against the inevitable robot uprising. I kinda like series featuring multiple forms of fictional robot alongside each other and/or integrated with each other**, and putting a robot brain in any sort of giant robot just makes sense.

**Taking this to its logical conclusion was the Bots Master cartoon, which featured sapient robots, mook robots, animal robots, talking head robots, transforming vehicle robots, combining robots, giant robots of several sizes, and probably more things I'm not thinking of. Too bad that show ended up in the lethal 6:00 AM weekday suicide time slot. ...Why did every show to end up in that slot end on a cliffhanger?

-Signing off.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Stab That Wall, Build More Boats

At some point I'm probably going to cut back on the RTS-based content, but today is not that day.

So I'm rarely especially big on the campaign missions in RTS games, because they're usually kind of... meh. The Total Annihilation missions are kind of an interesting alternative to try out that adds a little variety to what is often just the same thing over and over, but other favorite RTS games (I'm looking at you, Seven Kingdoms II) have completely and utterly uninteresting ones*.

So the campaign in Total Annihilation: Kingdoms is pretty refreshing.

First off, they're framed using a mock historical documentary, which is a pretty amazing approach to this and a lot more fun than most mission briefings I've ever seen.

Second, this means that the campaign follows different sides depending on the particular events of the mission.

Third, some of the actual missions are unusual enough that I can't recall seeing anything quite like them in other RTS games.

In my favorite of those missions I've bothered to play, you get precisely one unit, an assassin. (This happens to correspond to the bit of the video that runs from about 9:10 or so to about 9:50.)

As such, you need to use the assassin's invisibility to sneak around, find a specific unit, kill it, and then escape without being killed.

The thing that really makes this mission fun is the realization that you can use the assassin's weapon to break a hole in the wall, which allows a useful bypass of the front gates and a more casual approach than one might otherwise expect.

Of course, the real reason it's so fun is because stabbing a hole in the wall is hilarious.

In case that was boring, here's a screenshot of a stupid AI insisting on building an immense fleet of useless boats.

I have no idea why he was so determined to build all the boats, but he sure did build all the boats. (Boats that couldn't get very close to the enemy and whose primary purpose was to transport things; the boats were trapped in a pretty small place. And he was doing basically nothing else, and refused to stop once I started sinking them en masse even though he was my ally. It got pretty ridiculous.)

*The game Swarm Assault (which I have a rather blah review of here) had some really silly and memorable missions, such as one where you had exactly one colony of flying units, and the enemy had a few dozen colonies of non-flying units, and one is expected to somehow be able to overcome the various issues such as being severely outnumbered and flying units being unable to attack while crossing the water that made up most of the map.

Also, the map placed your colony on what looked vaguely like Spain and the enemies on what looked vaguely like the Americas. Dude, that's at least a bit offensive.

I did in fact mention all this in the blah review.

-Signing off.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Form Firing Lines

So I've talked about both Starcraft and Total Annihilation from time to time, and how Starcraft is the "big" RTS and how Total Annihilation is the underrated one.

Now, the Starcraft video I've selected for today is not a normal gameplay video, and the Total Annihilation video is one (albeit for a modified version of the game*), but the point has less to do with the gameplay and more to do with something else (two somethings, perhaps).

This video shows two groups of Starcraft units duking it out.

Notice how they form firing lines? Firing lines with a bunch of guys in back milling around trying to get closer. Why is this supposedly futuristic combat is taking place at spitting distance, exactly?

And a Total Annihilation video:

One of the things I want to draw attention to is that there's lots of difference in combat ranges.

This screenshot shows... I guess it's an island? Boy, TA's graphics aged surprisingly well, but it's been so long (about eighteen years)... ahem. It's under bombardment.

Anyway, when I say it's "under bombardment," I mean that there are artillery pieces a couple of screens away (Old TA doesn't feature zooming, so that's a fixed distance) pounding the heck out of it. Here's a closeup of the radar screen, with the relevant radar of the artillery fire highlighted:

This is not the maximum range of the weapons, and there are weapons with longer range. "Ranged unit" means something completely different in TA than it does in other games.

This screenshot shows something else-engagements tend to take place at absurd ranges even with running battles of comparatively short-ranged mobile units. Often, you can't even see what your guys are shooting at, or what's shooting your guys, because their ranges are that long. (Long range radar scanning and artillery spotting for the win, you bloody pukes! ...Sorry.)

Now, I know why Starcraft's weapon ranges are so short. It's in service to "balance" and "transparency of gameplay," concepts I appreciate but honestly find a bit overrated. Yes, balance is a good thing, but sometimes I feel like driving for balance over all else sterilizes the joy of the gameplay**. Long-ranged units as seen in TA are probably (almost definitely) "overpowered," but they're also central to what makes TA fun and to what I know of Starcraft's gameplay seeming a bit... well, sterile***. Not in and of itself, but by comparison.

I mean, I suppose it depends on whether you'd rather watch a bunch of dinks running up to each other to shoot each other in the face (and stab each other in the face-wait, aren't these guys supposed to be high-tech?) or watch lots of huge explosions of things shooting at each other from really far away.

...Which admittedly sounds a teense meh when you put it that way, but it has a feel that evokes a more realistic flavor of high-tech warfare+. And I'm pretty sure one TA Commander could just wipe the floor with all three Starcraft factions given a little prep time++.

*It's modified, but in terms of how things work in it, such as unit range, it still largely follows the spirit of the original. The Total Annihilation community really likes doing that sort of thing, and the tiny, determined remainder of it even cracked the engine at some point in their determination to better modify the game. Considering it's kind of abandonware at this point, I can't say I find the fact that said cracking is technically illegal very relevant.

It's a little tricky finding decent video of the game in its vanilla state that's useful for illustrating anything.

**Reminder: I'm terrible at RTS games. I'm talking about an experience, not some kind of nonsense to do with serious playerVplayer tourney BS. I appreciate that those of you with 200+APM like that sort of thing, but I'm more into building my neat, tidy forts (AKA suicide in multiplayer), and my stupid overcosted superunits (AKA suicide in multiplayer), and my mostly ineffective sorties against the enemy base (AKA just me being terrible), and my massive artillery/nuclear bombardment endgame (AKA if people do it in multiplayer it's either a huge map or people are screwing around). I want an entertaining experience in something that vaguely resembles warfare.

Addendum: The idea of fun being sterilized by balance applies to my thoughts on tabletop RPGs, even though I don't play those, because most of the fun-sounding parts of Dungeons & Dragons seem to be the older parts that chew player characters up and spit them out. And even if I played such games, if I wanted a combat-focused RPG I'd just find a JRPG or a comparable flash game, because you don't need to hunt down a playgroup for those.

***Disclaimer: I actually quite like a pretty fair bit of Starcraft's story lore, although I think it's hilarious that the Zerg are a serious threat to the Protoss.

+Heck, TA:Kingdoms has a more compelling-if unrealistic-model of low-tech warfare than one often sees (like, there are actual long-ranged units here, too), and the unrealism is significantly mitigated by the fact that, hey, MAGIC. Cross that stuff with the diplomacy and settlements and stuff in Seven Kingdoms and throw in the Kohan squad system to fight off micromanagement nonsense, with some zany Command & Conquer-inspired shenanigans, and that'd be my favorite RTS of all time right there, even moreso than TA or 7KII, the two primary contenders. ...My ideal high-tech-based RTS would require even more complexity, because my second-favorite tech-based RTS lets you design units on the fly, and other high-tech RTS games I'd be interested in emulating would up the complexity even further (Achron involves actual player time travel and Planetary Annihilation involves multiple planets which can move); it'd probably be an unplayable, slow-moving and glitchy cluster-fluffle.

++Reminder: A Total Annihilation Commander has a gun that can instantly disintegrate anything it hits and can build a starter base from scratch. Said base can then build an army from scratch and expand into a massive, self-replicating living urban sprawl from hell. And said base will have guns that outrange anything in Starcraft and have access to ICBMs once it's built up enough. Heck, I suspect the basic anti-air missile towers (which despite their supposed function can hit ground targets) outrange basically everything in Starcraft. And once the Commander's built a base that can dominate a planet, the Commander can, according to TA lore, teleport to a new planet and start over again+++, which is something the player more or less does in the missions, albeit without actually getting to control the teleport process.

+++There's actually a lot of TA lore that I only really know secondhand because I didn't get the original booklet with the game, my original copy coming from some sort of wholesale thing that was just a disk in a white envelope with a clear front to show off the disk's title. Worst way to get a game ever, would totally do again.

-Signing off.

Friday, April 3, 2015


(I really need to do prep work for my Star Wars posts further ahead of time at this point. Ah, well.)

So there's lots of things in RTS games that I don't like despite liking RTS games because I feel they go against the spirit of what RTS games should be, such as high-level players replicating the effect of a militant hivemind.

The following video combines an awful RTS aspect of that nature with something I do approve of, putting ridiculous limitations upon oneself to create different gameplay experiences.

Specifically, a thing RTS players are known to do is physically block clicking on enemy units by using large units or large numbers of units (or large numbers of large units, as here) to actually cover them over, which keeps those units from being controlled and turning them into easier prey than they would be otherwise; the player using this strategy in the video is using these units, Overlords, to do this as part of his "win without units designed for actually attacking the enemy" strategy. (The enemy base was destroyed by the Overlords causing the growth of a hostile ground cover called Creep; Zerg buildings need Creep to grow on.)

This is pretty incredible.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Google "Zerg Rush" If You Haven't Before*

My kid brother pointed this out-I'd never happened to notice this little Google oddity before.

Well-played, Google, well-played.

*This is not an April Fool's post. Those are terrible.

-Signing off.