Efectos Especiales

Ramblings, rants, musings, ideas and observations. Topics include (but are not limited to): programming (especially Python), books, games (especially CCGs and board games), astrology, design, writing, painting, etc.

icon:weird #759 Fear of phobias

Some weird phobias can be found here...

Some don't seem to make a lot of sense... Retterophobia - Fear of wrongly chosen letters. Quadrataphobia - Fear of quadratic equations.

Others on the other hand make perfect sense: Panthophobia - Fear of suffering and disease. Lilapsophobia - Fear of tornadoes and hurricanes. Pentheraphobia - Fear of one's mother-in-law. emoticon:smile

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-03-30 18:19 */

icon:language #758 ...and Wikipedia in Limburgs

(Followup to Wikipedia in Latin)

Wikipedia is also available in Limburgs. (The dialect of the province of Limburg, in the Netherlands.) The problem with this is, that there really are many forms of Limburgs, rather than just one dialect. The differences aren't trivial; somebody from Maastricht may not understand someone from Roermond or Kerkrade, etc. To make matters more interesting, the Wikipedia pages haven't all been written in the same dialect. This page about Iceland appears to be in Maastrichts, for example. But the main page uses something else (not sure what -- even though I am a native Limburger, I don't speak the dialect). And this page uses something else again.

What a mess. emoticon:smile

/* Posted by Hans "sjtomme Limburgers ;-)" Nowak at 2005-03-29 16:32 */

icon:language #757 Wikipedia in Latin

Hey, I wasn't aware that Wikipedia has entries in Latin as well. For example: clepsydra, aquila, ursa, Iulius, etc.

Of course, that isn't so special, considering they also have Greek, Esperanto, and Volapuk.

On a not entirely unrelated side note: I still think that Wikipedia's search function is, shall we say, suboptimal. For example, go to nl.wikipedia.org. In the search box ("zoeken"), type "dries van agt". It won't find it. Now type "Dries van Agt", and it will take you to the right page. Why the case sensitivity?

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-03-27 13:27 */

icon:ps2 #756 [PS2] Disgaea: Hour of Darkness

Disgaea is an excellent game. But don't take my word for it, see what these reviewers have to say:

GameSpot: "At a time when most game publishers are desperately trying to expand their audience, sometimes by severely dumbing down their games or including tutorials so simple they border on being patronizing, along comes Atlus with Disgaea, a game that's exclusively for hard-core fans of RPGs, and strategy RPGs in particular. If you have no interest in games such as Final Fantasy Tactics or Atlus' own Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis, then Disgaea is not for you. But if you are a fan of these types of games, then consider Disgaea one great big thank-you card for your ongoing support."
"Disgaea's storyline, which unfolds using a combination of 2D artwork, text, and voice-overs, is overflowing with absurdly goofy Japanese humor, some of which is actually really funny. This sense of humor pervades the entire game--Disgaea doesn't take itself the least bit seriously, and the anything-goes philosophy expressed by Laharl, Etna, and the other demons of the netherworld actually manifests itself in the game design and the characters' personalities."

GameSpy: "Most of the story situations in Disgaea are highly-sarcastic and self-satirical. For example, one of the chapters in the game has your party searching out the thief who stole your picnic basket. As a wonderful bonus to game otaku, you can choose to listen to all the dialogue in either English or the original Japanese."
"The coolest feature of all, however, is the Dark Assembly. This is a congress of evil senators which you can petition for various actions, like making certain items available at the shop, opening up side-quests, and raising the levels of all enemies. The assembly votes on your petitions, and if your bill does not pass, you can even attack the dissenters and physically force them into submission! Plus, you can bribe your constituents with items before the vote in order to change their stance."

Wicked Toast: "Super weapons? We got your super weapons - not only can you obtain powerful weapons, you can get them in their Rare form, or even Legend form - this means they are harder to find, can be upgraded further than others, and usually have better stats. Not only that, but as a whole complete sidegame you can enter the Item World, a dimension inside each item in the game (each. yes. every single one) where, as you progress through levels and conquer them and their residents, your weapon gains those levels and builds up appropriately. You could spend half your playing time just building the perfect set of weapons for your party."

Game Revolution: "Some of the maps feature inlaid colored squares known as Geo Panels. Standing on one of these squares causes different effects to happen. By tossing a differently colored Geo Crystal onto a Geo Panel and then subsequently destroying that Crystal, you can negate all Panels of that color, starting a chain reaction to sweep enemies away and earning a huge point bonus. It adds almost a puzzle game strategy to some of the stages." (This review is a bit weird, in that the guy keeps talking about "goth"... doesn't he know what a demon is?)

Firing Squad: "The quality of the art continues into the actual game scenes. The character sprites look great from any angle or zoom level, though sometimes you might wish they had more frames of animation. Perhaps more importantly, it's easy to tell one class from another by just scanning over the screen, so you know where everyone is even in fairly complex scenes. Perhaps the only real failing of Disgaea's graphics is that the scenes are occasionally a bit too complex. It can be hard to get a good camera angle in some spots and the sprite-based characters mean you can't put the camera wherever you wish. The fantastically over-the-top special attacks and highly varied fields make up for some of this."

RPGamer: "As a general rule, any RPG with a poorly executed battle system will suffer horribly for it. Nowhere is this more evident than in tactical and strategy RPGs, whose sole purpose is often the functionality of combat. And although Disgaea doesn't lend its entire tour de force to battles alone, the overwhelming majority of the game will be spent in the trenches of a 3D isometric battlefield smashing your foes into goo. Thankfully, you're given more than an adequate number of weapons, skills, and classes to accomplish your perpetual smashing in a fun and tireless fashion. Combined with the precision of your control over the sequence of events, the elements set by the Geo Symbols, and the characters' penchant for cooperating with one another, the number of possibilities starts to become more obvious."

So, to summarize it:

By the way, the strategy guide is available online (PDF). (Even if it wasn't, there's always Gamefaqs... :-)

/* Posted by Hans "honk" Nowak at 2005-03-26 22:07 */

icon:weird #755 Die blöde Frage der Woche



This is the same font (Trebuchet MS), normal and in italics. The italics slant to the right, but aside from that they are the same as the regular letters. ...Except for the a. (a vs a) Why is that?

(Obviously, if you don't have the Trebuchet font, then you might see nothing special...) For those who don't have this font, here's a screenshot. I should have thought of that in the first place.

There are more differences, like the e and the f, but the a is the most obvious, I think.

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-03-25 15:54 */

icon:gc #754 [Gamecube] Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour

Back in the 80s, you had Leaderboard Golf for the C64. I liked Leaderboard. It seemed boring at first, but had a surprising amount of depth, and required more thinking than you would expect.

I think the same is true for any decent golf game. Hitting the ball is easy. Getting the ball in the hole on par may be a little less easy (depending the course, and on the game). Getting it there under par is more of a challenge. Mario Golf and Leaderboard both use this premise. Swinging your club and hitting the ball (in the right direction) is dead simple.

That is probably where the similarity ends, though. Sure, both games give you a variety of clubs, and things like terrain, wind direction and speed, are important. But where Leaderboard lets you figure things out for yourself, Mario Golf has a number of tools that make the game very easy to pick up for beginners. For example, you see the projected course of the ball, which you can adjust with L and R. It also changes when you change clubs or face in a different direction. You can control the camera to see where the ball is going to land. The game also picks the optimal (well, usually) club, direction and power for you. All you have to do is press A, watch the power level move to the desired point, then press A again. That's pretty much all that is needed to hit the ball and get a decent result. (There is a "manual" mode as well, which allows for greater control but also means greater risk.)

You can choose from many options in this game. Personally, I find the Tournament the most interesting -- you play 18 holes against fictitious opponents. The game starts with two tournaments, which are fairly easy to beat; when you have won both of them, a third one is unlocked; if you win that one, you get a fourth course, etc. As expected, the tournaments are increasingly difficult. I am currently trying the Blooper Open tournament, and I found that the ball doesn't do at all what I want, (probably) due to wind and terrain differences. (Or, as a FAQ puts it: "This is where the sentence, "OH MY ****ING GOD THAT WASN'T ****ING FAIR! I ****ING HATE YOU, YOU STUPID BALL AND I WANT YOU TO DIE!" originated because you will be saying that a lot during this course.")

Other games include Doubles (two players form one team), Character Match (play against a Mario character), Ring Shot (get the ball in the hole on par *and* make it go through rings placed around the course), side games, etc. You can play alone, or against others (haven't tried that yet).

What I didn't mention yet is that you get to choose from various Mario characters (Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Koopa, etc). These are not just for decoration; each character has his or her own stats. They differ in control, power, etc. Who you choose is more important than you might think and can have unexpected consequences in some parts of the game. For example, a character that doesn't hit very hard, might get in trouble when playing a par five. A character that hits the ball low might not be able to hit it over certain obstacles, etc.

The verdict: This is a surprisingly good, and surprisingly addicting, game that can be enjoyed by all ages. ^_^

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-03-24 16:38 */

icon:python #753 Python for Series 60

Matt Croydon discusses the Python for Nokia Series 60 BoF. This would almost make me want a cellphone.

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-03-24 16:34 */

icon:python #752 PyCon

When will they hold PyCon in Florida? Probably after I move away... emoticon:nosmile

Almost two years later, this is still true, by the way. Unless you count the guy who worked at the accounting firm that pretended they wanted to hire me for some project... but I think he was more of a beginner.

(If you think that is weird: I have never seen my boss in person either... emoticon:smile not yet, anyway.)

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-03-23 22:25 */

icon:wax #751 Documentation woes

I've been trying to generate some Wax API documentation. (As somebody pointed out, right now Wax probably needs documentation more than it needs extra widgets.) Apparently it is not as easy as it seems. At this point, neither pydoc nor epydoc produce the desired results.

We can be short about epydoc. It raises a TypeError whenever it tries to process a wxPython module. I don't really know why, but that's what it does. [It seems I'm not the only one who got this error... I'll have to look at that workaround.]

pydoc on the other hands works. Mostly. But a problem occurs with the documentation of the core.py module. This can be emulated in the interactive interpreter:

>>> import wax.core as core
>>> help(core)
Help on module wax.core in wax:

    wax.core - # core.py


    DEBUG = 0
    required = (2, 5, 2, 7)
    required_str = ''


What's wrong here? Well, core.py also has a number of functions, that are not picked up by pydoc:

>>> dir(core)
['BeginBusyCursor', 'CallAfter', 'DEBUG', 'EndBusyCursor',
'GetActiveWindow', 'GetApp', 'SafeYield', 'WakeUpIdle',
'Yield', 'YieldIfNeeded', '__builtins__', '__doc__',
'__file__', '__name__', 'required', 'required_str', 'wx']

The reason is, that these functions are not defined in core.py itself, but imported from elsewhere (in the current development version) or injected into the module's globals (current public Wax versions). In order to see them, one would have to import the module first and then inspect its contents... maybe that is not what pydoc does. If it does, then I don't know why it's ignoring them.

Anyway, so I'm looking for a better way to generate these docs... let's see if the epydoc workaround works... or maybe I'll end up rolling something myself. How hard can it be? (Famous last words...)

[Update #1] epydoc works now, but it has the same problem as pydoc.

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-03-19 20:44 */

icon:games #750 Spore

(via Keith) Will Wright presents Spore... and a New Way to Think About Games

Fascinating stuff. More about this later.

(Mostly unrelated: I always wanted to write a cool game, text-based or otherwise, probably using some kind of complex system with creatures, spells, artifacts, flexible environments, etc. I really don't have enough time for this though. I come up with ideas, and maybe a simple prototype, but then other things come up, and I lose interest, and the project ends up just sitting there in a folder. Many months later, I'll rediscover it, and the process repeats itself. I'm my own worst enemy.)

/* Posted by Hans Nowak at 2005-03-17 16:18 */