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Juan Carlo

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  1. I generally believe truth is relative, but that's such a complicated statement with so many footnotes attached that it becomes kind of meaningless if you don't ground it in some kind of specific philosophical tradition. But most philosophers who argue against any forms of absolutes tend to replace the traditional notion of God or Reason as absolute arbiters with something else that, while it may not be "absolute" in the same sense, tends to function as a sort of imperative that the individual must address in one way or another. Very few will claim that because truth has an element of human subjectivity to it that this means that individuals exist in a solipsistic world where truth is whatever they think it is. For most post-modern philosophers, for example, culture very much replaces God/Reason as that huge thing which both precedes us and exists long after our deaths, which (in many ways) creates us, and which we must acknowledge in one way or another. And the really smart ones don't deny external non-cultural influence either, as much as they just acknowledge that there are spaces of existence which have influence on us that language and culture and reason (which is a loaded word) cannot exhaustively account for (I loathe Lacan for lots of reasons, for example, but I think his concept of "The Real" is really helpful in that it attempts to account for some form of extra-cultural agency that alot of post-structuralists either ignored or had difficulty elucidating. And there are brilliant post-structuralist/materialist anthropologists who take a different perspective on this same problem, I think, and try to account for ways in which the cultural and the extra-cultural meet and interact). But subjectivity vs objectivity aren't really either/or propositions, and, honestly, I think people get too hung up on them (especially people who are just getting into philosophy). There's ways to opt out of objectivity/subjectivity and absolutist/relativist type arguments entirely. You don't necessarily have to chose one or the other. But, yeah, it's hard to talk about stuff if you don't ground it in some specific philosophical tradition as depending on the philosopher, people might not even be able to reach an agreement about what these terms mean. With out doing that these sorts of conversations tend to degenerate into, "Like, what if the world is all in our heads and everything we know is a lie, man!" type conversations that whacked out stoners engage in when they are high.
  2. When I was playing the Geneforges I was listening to a lot of pandora.com (which is a website that generates radio stations of similar songs based on entering a song or a band). I mostly used a hybrid station of and The combination of the darker, ambient, drone techno with the more down beat, sparse, piano ballads worked really well together and fit the games really well too, I thought. Although, I kind of think Geneforge should be sort of Phillip Glass-y, only with more of a digital/techno bent. So Brian Eno, I guess? Avadon was supposedly inspired by Blackbeard's Castle, wasn't it? So Bartok would be the best template, probably, or some other early 20th century composer.
  3. This thread is kind of humorous to me. I mean, I love Spiderweb games, but I can't really get excited about screenshots from up their upcoming releases. They really don't make the sorts of games that translate well to screenshots. It's like, "Huzzah! It's the same 20 or 30 art assets arranged in a slightly different order!" But I do admit the geek in me was really excited to see that world map.
  4. Foucault's easiest if you start with "History of Sexuality Vol 1." You don't have to read the whole thing, just the first section or so just to get the basic idea of how he conceives of power (which is kind of key to understanding his style of thinking. Once you get his idea of the the repressive hypothesis down and its relationship to power, it's much easier to follow the rest of his writing). His short essay "The Subject and Power" is a good place to start too as it's short and fairly succinct (it's one of the later things he wrote before he died and he kind of sums up where all of his writing had been leading him in the first 2 pages, which is really helpful and much more direct than he usually is). And if you want to have lots of fun, I'd recommend reading "History of Madness" along with Derrida's critique of it, "Cogito and the History of Madness." "History of Madness" is the first thing he ever wrote so it's way more relaxed than his later stuff just because he's not really trying to lay out any sort of grand system or anything as much as he's just explicating different interpretations of madness throughout history. It reads more like literary criticism than philosophy. Plus, the Derrida essay is awesome (in fact, if you want the short version, just read the opening section of "History of Madness" to get the basic idea of his concept of an archaeology of silence, and then skip to Derrida. It's worth it, I think, as "Cogito and the History of Madness" is one of my favorite shorter pieces of philosophy ever. I mean, I don't love Derrida as a philosopher all the time, but I think he can be a stylistically brilliant writer when he really wants to. He kind of has a bit of a mystical bent to him, which has always appealed to me. As a philosopher he's essentially just a secular negative theologian so his best writing often has a sort of, almost manic, "religious fervor" to it, even though it's entirely secular.
  5. I read the first Hunger Games and gave up on the series. It was disappointing and slightly infuriating how it pulled every single one of its punches. It presents the protagonist with a difficult moral dilemma -and then magically resolves it time and again with a series of coincidences and deus ex machinas. I know it's a young adult novel, so I wasn't expecting "Battle Royale," but it was still really disappointing how clean the distinction between villains and heros was and how the protagonist is completely absolved of ever having to make hard decisions or get her hands dirty. And YA novels don't have to be so bloodless. The His Dark Materials novels were written for an even young audience, but even they were much more....thorny....than the Hunger Games.
  6. I liked Avadon fine as it was the first Spiderweb game I ever played. But then I played all the Geneforges and most of the Avernums and it's really not on their level at all (although it is light years better than either Avernum 4 or 5). A few things it does well, though: -Boss Battles (I think Avadon has the best designed boss battles of any SW game) -Companions with fleshed out personalities and backstories -I generally liked the mostly political focus, although I can see how some might see it as dry
  7. I actually got to that scene a week ago and just kind of gave up. I fully intend to finish the books as I do like them overall despite my griping (they really do have an awesome magical system, which is maybe the books single biggest strength)....but the fairy sex was kind of silly.
  8. I'm still really disappointed that in the Harry Potter series Nevell didn't turn out to be the chosen one. Rowling made a point of mentioning that he fit the prophecies, so she could have easily gone in that direction....but nope. I know people would probably have freaked out and felt cheated, but I think that would have been way more interesting. Also, I admittedly don't read much fantasy at all, but I thought "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel" handled this well, in that its main characters were just humans messing with stuff beyond their control. They weren't exceptionally talented, just your average academic sorts. "Jonathan Strange" is one of those books that's so good that I think it transcends its genre entirely, though. Like I said, it's one of the most successful imitations of Jane Austen ever, even apart from all the fantasy stuff. But, yeah, I do think Kvothe has flaws (although, they aren't anything special or interesting, really, and could even be said to be the same as Harry Potter's basic flaws--i.e. too prone to anger, too eager, sometimes puts impulse in front of sense. I think he'd be a more interesting character if his flaws were more interesting). But I do suspect that the series has a few tricks up its sleeve yet that could buck this trend (since, obviously, he's anything but a super hero in the "Inn" portions of the narrative so he's most likely going to have a massive collapse/breakdown at some point)...but I often do sometimes feel like I'm reading fantasy James Bond. Or maybe a better way of describing this is classic Jedi versus prequel Trilogy Jedi. In the original SW trilogy, Jedi was something anyone could do if they studied and worked diligently enough. Whereas in the prequels they introduce the idea of midichlorians and being a Jedi just becomes a fluke of your biology. Kvothe does put in the work to a degree, but he too often seems like more of a midichlorian Jedi rather than a classic Jedi. He just has a magical brain that can solve any problem and do anything for him so he ends up seeming like a superhero (to the stories credit, they actually do acknowledge this idea somewhat in the way they contrast the fantastical stories about Kvothe against his real life stories....but too often the leap between these two isn't far enough, I think). Whereas Mr Norrel and Jonathan Strange are classic Jedi, and the novel is all the better for it.
  9. Not a chosen one in a prophetic sense, but he's absurdly good at everything to near unbelievable degrees and, just like Harry Potter, everyone notices him and talks about him. He's not just a good student, but rather he masters everything and advances through the ranks faster than anyone. He doesn't just play the lute, he's the best lute player ever. Honestly, it gets a little silly at times. Just for once I wish they'd write one of these stories where the main character is a total screw up or just some average schmo. Kvothe isn't flawless, but he's enough of a savant to kind of stretch credulity at times.
  10. They do up until the middle of the second book....at which point they diverge slightly. Although, perhaps "premise" is a better word than "plot." Both are about an orphaned, chosen one, Wizard whose parents are killed by a great evil and who then goes to a school for wizardry populated by eccentric teachers and snobby bullies and participates in all manner of adventures while slowly gaining the skills to ultimately tackle the "great evil" who killed his parents. I suspect "Kingkiller" will throw more than a few wrenches in the works and won't follow that formula as closely as Harry Potter did....but thus far (I'm like 3/4 of the way through book 2) they are pretty close in the broad strokes.
  11. I played through all the Geneforge games, trying all the classes at least once, and my solo games were always more fun than my shaper based games. My ideal class for a solo playthrough is probably an agent, but solo guardians (and later) serviles can be lots of fun too. I did play a couple games as a Shaper and they bored me to tears, just because I think the games tend to be easier when you play as a shaper, but I also just found the process of managing my monsters tedious. Also, having to play all those attack animations, one by one, in my 7 monster party kind of sucked. Not so much in the bigger fights, but they really get tedious in the lesser fights when you know you can crush the opponent, yet you still have to sit through the animations.
  12. I don't read alot of fantasy, but I'm reading the "Kingkiller Chronicles." I'm on book two. They are really good books, but at a certain point I realized, "Wait a minute, this is almost the exact same plot as Harry Potter." Not that I mind, as they are way better written than Harry Potter and they delve way more into the philosophy behind magic, which I think is cool. They are slightly more adult in that they acknowledge the existence of things like sex and rape, but (at least so far) I think they are tame enough that any age could read them. But anyway they are really good. As far as books about adult magicians, I still like "Jonathan Norrel and Mr Strange" better (which doubles as the best Jane Austen novel that Austen never wrote, so it's hard to compete with it as it's so stylistically brilliant), but these are pretty good too since we'll probably never get a sequel to that.
  13. I thought I should plug Winter Voices again since I finally got around to playing them, although they are really nothing like Spiderweb games. They have an insanely cool skill tree system and stat system, which might seem strange on the surface, but aren't anything a RPG vet can't handle (my character's essentially a tank, for example, eventhough if I told you about her stats it wouldn't make much sense on the surface). Pros: -unique stat system -one of the most awesome skill trees of any current gen RPG (with different paths actually affecting the way you play) -Neat difficulty system--where difficulty is always determined by how many points you put in one particular attritbute, rather than any external game setting. The higher this attribute, the harder battles are, but the more experience you get Nuetrals: -Battles are more "puzzle like" than your typical SW game, but stats do matter. -The concept behind the game isn't exactly typical. You play a girl trying to deal with the emotional trauma of her father's death, while also trying to discover secrets about your family's history. All "combat" is defensive, too. You simply try to survive a certain number of turns against mental projections. Again, I think this is awesome, but I realize it might not appeal to some. -Not very many battles. I personally like this as I think any typical SW game can usually do with way less combat, but if you like combat you might be disappointed. -It's very adventure like. Most experience comes from just talking to people rather than fighting. Cons: -The Engine is SOOOOOO slow. Like, your character walks really slow, I mean, which makes the games longer than they should be. -Terrible translations. The games were written in French and the text often leans towards the poetic, which too often just translates as awkward word salad. Some of the more artistic and philosphically oriented sections don't work as well as I suspect they might in French just because the translations are so bad (a couple times I felt like I was watching a poorly translated, freshman, art film). -It's episodic, still unfinished (one episode is still unreleased), and has TONS of bugs, although they are still fixing them. All in all I like the games. They are definitely flawed and I'm not sure if, in their execution, they ever fully live up to the brilliance of the basic concepts behind the game, but they worth playing if you want to try something different.
  14. I loathe Bacon flavor. My sister's boyfriend is from the south and for one of our family get togethers he made Collared Greens with bacon grease in them (which I guess is a common recipe in the south) and it was completely disgusting. It just tasted and felt so wrong. I can't imagine two things more diametrically opposed than greens and bacon grease. Of course, supposedly a bit of fat helps you digest greens and salads and what not, but the taste of bacon just ruined everything.
  15. I would have preferred Avadon 2: The Corruptening.
  16. True. I never played it for very long (as I found the experience of playing it tedious), but I nonetheless find "Eve Online" to be fascinating and never tire of hearing the stories that emerge from it. It's like its own cut-throat, Randian, dystopia and the politics of the game (and the meta-game) are incredibly complex. I mean, I'm no libertarian in real life, but it's kind of fun to watch how an extreme form of libertarianism plays out in a virtual world over long periods of time (and another name for "Eve online" could more or less just be "Laissez faire capitalism: in space!"). I think the most fascinating thing about MMOs is the "social experiement" element, but most have so many rules that limit player actions in the interest of making the game "fun" that there's very little room for anything truly interesting to happen.
  17. If anyone ever made a true, large scale, Roguelike MMO I would totally be there. Sure there is "Realm of the MAd God," but that's not quite as elaborate. I want one that has a genetics system so your character can swap DNA with another character to have children, then when your character dies you become your child (whose stats are rolled according to his mother and father's DNA). That would be awesome. Unfortunately, eugenics would probably be unavoidable. As would infanticide. But we could probably think up some rules to combat those things.
  18. I'm always groggy until I run, after which point I have way more energy. 2 miles, 6mph, on the treadmill. I usually skip Saturdays and Sundays, but I'm really proud of myself as when I first started running a year or so ago I couldn't run for 2 minutes without feeling like I was having a heart attack. It took a bloody lot of work to get to the point where I could run 2 miles straight without dying, so I like to brag about it as much as possible now (yeah, it's kind of douchey, but at least I'm not a bicycler....bicyclers are the worst).
  19. The Geneforge series is WAAAAAAY better than the Avernum series, but at the same time I think "Escape From the Pitt" is also a good first Spiderweb game. It has the most accessible interface so it might be a good way to ease into things (I played it before playing any of the Geneforges and didn't regret it). Just as a warning, though, the Avernum games are also WAAAAAAAY longer than the Geneforge games. The Geneforges are usually in the 30-50 hour range, whereas most of the Avernums are more in the 80-100 hour range (you could probably knock alot of time off that if you play them on normal or easy, though). So you could probably play through the first 3 Geneforge games in the time that it would take you to beat "Escape from the Pitt" alone.
  20. I personally don't care, but I have no doubt that Spiderweb games would sell more if they invested in artwork a bit more. And I mean "artwork" not "graphics." I think their current 2D engine is fine, but most of their games have no cohesive or unified art style so they end up just looking ugly or like they were assembled from a variety of sources. EFTP, for example, has like 3 different art styles--the hand drawn, cartoonish, skill screens, the actual game graphics, and then the story/title card drawings. They all don't fit very well together. And the artwork on the steamstore page for Avadon is just ugly and amateurish--it looks like something a 9th grader who's really into D&D and just took his first computer graphics course in 1994 would draw. I know nothing about the sort of budgets that Spiderweb works with (next to nil, I imagine), but given how great most indie games made for nil can look I can't imagine it would be that hard to hire one artist for a game who could draw all the assets and make sure that the game has a unified and compelling art style. Then, after that, Spiderweb could revert to its old habits of milking every single pixel for like 1,000 games if it wanted, but at least things would look a bit better. But, like I said, I personally don't care much. I spent a bunch on a new gaming PC to play "Witcher 2" and "Crysis 2" etc, etc, and I usually just end up playing older games and 2D RPGs on it anyway.
  21. I usually don't play through games twice (unless I really love something and have nothing else to play). So that said, just in case I only play through Nethergate once, which would you recommend I play through as (based on the following criteria)? 1. Which faction has the best/most interesting storyline? 2. Which faction is the most unique gameplay wise? I have already played all of the Geneforges, Avernum 4-6, EFTP, and Avadon. So which faction would be the most unique compared to those games? I'm kind of drawn towards Romans just because playing without magic interests me, if that is in fact the case with them.
  22. When I lived in a larger city I used to go to movies constantly. Sometimes three a week. Now I live out in the sticks, though, so there aren't any decent arthouse cinemas around here. So I won't see most 2012 movies until later this year. Of the ones I did see, though, my favorites of 2012 are: 1. Amour (I love Michael Haneke, and this is one of his best) 2. Kill List (awesome, insane, and sadly overlooked. I'd say more about it, but it's the sort of film that works best if you know absolutely nothing about it going in) 3. Django Unchained (the most fun I had at the cinema all year) 4. Cabin in the Woods (I love horror films but it seems like a good one only comes around once every 3 or 4 years or so. This is the best English language horror film since "The Descent." I did see quite a few other movies, but most of the big movies this year I was kind of underwhelmed by. Competent mediocrities (e.g. well made films, but kind of boring because they don't really do anything new or take any sort of risks): The Avengers, Argo, Lincoln, Could have been great if it nailed the ending (but it didn't): Looper Flawed but worth seeing regardless: The Hobbit, Prometheus, The Deep Blue Sea Biggest Disappointment: The Dark Knight Rises (maybe Nolan's worst film, and definitely the worst of the trilogy) Saw it and hated it: Spider Man, Life of Pi I know I saw way more than just the above, but I'd have to sit down and make a list to remember everything.
  23. I played through the entire series in order recently, and I played a different class every game. G1-Agent G2-Guardian G3-Shaper G4-Servile G5-Infiltrator Honestly, by far the least fun class to play was Shaper, so I'd say you don't need to play a shaper even though the games are built around them. I got bored playing a shaper not only just because I think they are the easiest classes to play as, but mostly just because I hated having to wait for all of the attack animations on my creations to run one at a time every battle. I don't think people realize this, but playing as a shaper has to add hours onto the total playtime, just because of the bloody attack animations. Things can get really long, especially when you have 7-8 separate creations who are attacking each round.
  24. You don't have to play the geneforges in order, but they do have an overall storyline and one does lead into the next. So even though you definitely won't be lost or anything if you play them out of order, you'll get more out of it if you play them in order. Plus, they are relatively short for a spiderweb game (just like 35-60 hours each, depending on if you do everything or not). So you could almost play the first three in the time it would take you to play one avernum game.
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