The Giant Pachinko Machine of Doom | Cool stuff and the musings of a mad genius.

Review: Portal 2 (Singleplayer)

So, apparently MetaCritic is full of people hating on Portal 2.  What in the name of buggerfuckery?  How can anyone dislike this game?

Are they just pissed they haven’t been playing it since Friday?  Did they feel suckered into buying the Potato Sack?

CRY SOME MORE. The fact of the matter is, this game is awesome.  And I’m going to tell you why it’s awesome.

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Section: Tabletop RPGs

Personal History

I bought my first set of polyhedral dice in 1995 or so.  A plain set of Chessex opaque, blue with white numbers.  I still have it, sans a d20. (Which I just ordered a replacement for on Monday.) a short time prior to that, I had purchased a lone d10, and a pair of d6s so I could play in a Cyberpunk 2020 campaign I had found at The Gamer’s Realm, a gaming store in West Windsor, New Jersey.

A year or so of Cyberpunk 2020, still my favorite setting…  A sprinkling of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition…  A couple years of Shadowrun…  A bit of a run-in with D&D 4th Ed which never really went anywhere…  As much as I like RPGs, I haven’t played anywhere near my fill.  Something I hope to remedy.  However, as little as I actually get to play, I still enjoy the games themselves and the social experiences they represent.  I guess you could say I enjoy them as much in theory as in practice.

The Concept

You sit down around a table with a bunch of people, some of whom are your friends, some of whom you may be meeting for the first time and will become friends, and you share a story.  The setting and plot are the responsibility of the GM/DM/Referee but it is up to you, the players, to decide how events unfold…assuming the dice do what you want.  (Protip: Don’t get your hopes up.)

Random = Fun

The dice are what make it real.  Because of the addition of random chance, players often experience the same range of failure, success, tragedy, triumph, frustration, and relief that they would if the events were actually happening.  And yet, even the worst night of roleplaying is often more enjoyable than the best night sitting at home by yourself.

Variety is the spice of…Roleplaying

It can be a very compelling medium when properly executed.  Flexible, as well:  there is a roleplaying game for pretty much any taste.  From the extremes of past and future, to present day, and everything in between.  Reality-based, alternate-reality, historical, literary…cartoon!  Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Lovecraftian, Space Opera, Anime!  Serious and dramatic, action movie, light-hearted, slapstick!  Anything is possible between the different settings that are out there, and how the GM wants to portray it.

Tabletop RPGs Versus Videogames

Roleplaying is often maligned as something childish and/or nerdy, and yet videogames are orders of magnitude more accepted.  Why is that?  What’s the difference between the two?  I’ll tell you what the difference is: RPG players can’t find videogames with the richness and depth of the average tabletop roleplaying game.  It’s like playing a game that taps directly into the imagination of you and the people around you.  Videogames take place on the SCREEN, while RPGs take place in your IMAGINATION.  Now you tell ME which one has better graphics, yeah?

MMORPGs have come the closest so far, but they’re still a long ways off, and I’m not even sure some aspects can BE replicated in any other medium.  As of yet, nothing really matches sitting around a table with a bunch of people, rolling dice, carrying on, and enjoying yourselves.

And with that, I introduce the Tabletop RPG section.

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Buy this RPG, Help Japan!

I know most of us have enough financial problems as it is without thinking about donating towards Japan earthquake relief, but someone sent me a link to this yesterday.  You can buy something that might give you a few laughs, and still help Japan!

You can buy the PDF version of the book for $7 and they’ll donate the profits AND another $5 to the Red Cross for disaster relief.  (According to the post, it’s basically $12 minus transaction fees.) Sounds like a good deal.  I only wish there was more I could do to help Japan, but the way things are going I’ll be in need of donations soon enough!

I’m looking through the book I just bought, and I’ll tell you, it’s put a big ol’ grin on my face already.  Makes me want to buy an additional print copy, but I don’t have the $$$ right now.

I also make a point of supporting people like this every chance I get, this is from the first page of the PDF book:

A Word On PDF Piracy

If you downloaded a pirated version of this product from the internet…

Well, give the game a try! Don’t just let this shit rot on your hard drive, it only takes like 5 minutes to put a scenario together: So go print out the needed parts, bring some friends together and throw down a session or two. We only hope that if you liked it, and got some fun play out of it, that you guys throw us some money for a genuine print or PDF version of the game ( It helps Ewen for all the murderously hard work he did on the translation (while simultaneously going for a grad degree and holding down a job, no less!), and encourages us to bring more nifty Japanese RPGs over into English.

I like that kind of honesty.  Also, the PDF is completely without security, so I can do anything I need to with its contents.  That’s always refreshing, too.  I once needed to copy, enlarge, and print the pin-out diagram for a microcontroller, only to find out that the PDF datasheet was secured, and I had to find a PDF cracker, only it didn’t work for some reason, so I ended up re-doing the whole diagram in Illustrator and losing an afternoon on what I was doing.

Even if I never play this game, and I think I know some people who’d probably play it with me, it was more than worth it to contribute to Japan’s earthquake relief AND put a smile on my face.  Mission accomplished, guys. :]

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Quantum Terrorism

What it is I could have possibly said to elicit this, I do not know. Perhaps Swift knows me too well, but a question was posed that led to all manner of hilarity.

[12.28/12.41.24] <+Swift> What manner of dastardly plan are you concocting, you?
[12.28/12.41.36] <@Bakamoichigei> Who? Me?
[12.28/12.41.37] <@Bakamoichigei> :3
[12.28/12.41.43] <+Swift> Yes.
[12.28/12.41.44] <@Bakamoichigei> I concoct no plans.
[12.28/12.42.10] <@Bakamoichigei> We all know that my acts of global terrorism are wholly spontaneous.
[12.28/12.42.26] <+Swift> lol

And now for the inevitable, random, and yet somehow totally epic interruption by Shin_Getter… (With spelling corrections for those who can’t translate shinglish.)

[12.28/12.50.19] <Shin_Getter> the truth is Baka resides in an indeterminate state of terrorism at all times, in which all possible terrorist acts coexist simultaneously, and mere mortals are only capable of witnessing one possible result of Baka’s rampage as their feeble powers of observation can only observe one possible superposition of the outcome

This resulted in Swift scribbling a quick and hilarious 4koma. Now all we need is an audio clip of what Shin wrote in a Hawking-esque synth voice.

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Archived: Err, wow.

So, on Atheist-kids-get-presents-day Eve, I got an e-mail from someone named Jason von Nieda saying that he really loved the design I had for my vacuum tube clock, and that he used it as inspiration to machine a similar enclosure of his own. He included pictures of the finished device. I know a bit about obsessing over things you think are cool and working your ass off to imitate them, so I can sympathize. And the end result is really great. (The inner workings are as nice as the enclosure, too.)

I have to admit that, while really flattered that someone would like my design so much, I’m also kinda embarrassed and more than a little pissed at myself for having spent all this time struggling to make even one. Especially given how much attention it seems to be getting… (Of course, I already had some idea about that, since everyone I showed the design to thought it was incredibly cool.)

Now, don’t get me wrong, internet. It’s all good, so put all your sharp-pointy things away. Jason was very up-front on the matter and made sure I was cool with him using the design, and he did a smashing good job of making it, too! (Especially considering he was working from a single rendering I had posted.) It’s still just a bit shocking to say the least. 🙂

Anyway, here’s the original conceptual rendering I did.

Here’s the flickr photoset he posted of the finished clock and various prototype PCBs.

Here’s the post on his blog about it.

Here’s the post about it on Hack-A-Day with an insanely great post title.

Here’s the source of the Hack-A-Day post, an article on MAKE.

I guess I’d better get my ass in gear then, eh? I sure have enough tubes.

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