(1) Tue Feb 24 2004 10:15 Decision Procedure For Milkshake Quality:
Some restaurants serve good milkshakes; others just put them on the menu. If you order a milkshake will it be worth the calories? It's easy to find out with this decision procedure that's a lot simpler than the decision procedure for hot sauce quality.
- Does the restaurant serve more than one flavor of ice cream?
The reason this is important is that good milkshakes are made out
of ice cream that's the flavor of the milkshake. Bad and mediocre milkshakes are made out of vanilla ice cream blended with flavored syrup. This is in defiance of the Fundamental Theorem of Ice Cream Flavoring, which is that you flavor your ice cream while you're making it and not afterwards.
You can apply this decision procedure by looking at the dessert menu and seeing if they ever hint at the possibility that ice cream might exist in more than one flavor. If you're at a fast food restaurant there is no dessert menu, but come on! Fast food restaurants are the classic case of a restaurant with bad milkshakes--they pull vanilla ice cream out of a soft-serve machine and add syrup to it, right in front of you. You can't even pretend it might be good.
NOTE: Unlike the hot sauce procedure, which has been confirmed dozens of times since publication with no known failures, this decision procedure
goes to press with a known flaw. In-N-Out Burger flagrantly violates this decision procedure (you can actually see the syrup in its finished shakes), but its shakes are pretty good.
The only thing I can think of is that if you start with good vanilla ice cream, you can make a decent shake out of it by adding syrup. The decision procedure explains the fact that you can't even get a good vanilla milkshake at a restaurant with only vanilla ice cream by assuming that if you don't care enough to get multiple flavors of ice cream, you don't care enough to get good vanilla ice cream either. I guess this assumption doesn't hold for In-N-Out.
(2) Tue Feb 24 2004 18:10 Game Roundup Is The Place To Be:
As part of my reacclimation to my canonical life, I've prepared a Game Roundup for you. Lots of game clones in this roundup: just about every game here is a
clone of another game or belongs to a well-established genre. This does not bode well. I've got
about 25 more games to review before I'm all caught up, though, and fewer of them are clones.
- Mother Of All Gravity Games
should be called Child Of All Gravity Games since by its own admission
it is based on other games. If you can't get enough inverse-square-law
is another new game of that type.
- Speaking of gravity games, Linux Lunar
Lander and Linux Shuttle Lander each let you land some spacecraft
on some planetary body.
- Skystreets is a vaguely
Hover Carnage-esque game. It shouldn't be a gravity game, since it
takes place in outer space, but somehow it is. It's pretty difficult
to control your racing ship, but the background graphics are really
nice and you have to wonder who would go through all the trouble to
set up racing platforms in space.
- The Bub's Brothers [sic] [sic] [sic] is a really
slick clone of Bubble Bobble, the best game in the Metreon
arcade. It's easy to set up, it's got multiplayer network play, random
level generator, crazy new powerups etc. I don't think it comes as any
surprise that this game is written in Python. "A powerup that briefly
turns the game into Breakout? Sure, why not? How hard can it be?"
- Roguelike Mini-Roundup
Several new roguelike games in this roundup. Let's take a look.
- Avanor is the prize of this
mini-roundup. Its interface, feature set, and use of color owe a lot
to ADOM (but the interface is not as polished as ADOM's). The only
problem is that it's really hard. You play and play, gaining level
after level and fancier and fancier gear, but you never get past the
point where a little skeleton can kill you by poking you with a stick.
- Xenocide is a
Roguelike... set in the future! For me, Alphaman is the gold
standard of such games,. Includes dismemberment ("There's a Human Hand
lying here."), takes screenshots in HTML format.
is a promising (=="items don't work yet") new Roguelike with heavy
Angband influences. Only Porrog will dare to bring you fearsome
enemies like the land plankton!
- The Sword of
Fargoal is a slavish remake of an old C64 game. See remakes.org for more slavish remakes.
- Njam is a Pacman clone with
nice squiggly graphics. In multiplayer mode you can eat the other
Pacmen like so many ghosts. The indignity!
- Relive the dot-com heyday with foosball on your
- Some games shouldn't be cloned. Other games should, like
Spacewar. I'll always relish the old black-and-white Spacewar, but spacewar-sdl
is a pretty faithful translation to the modern age.
- Gtkboard is an open source
game engine a la Zillions Of Games. It has a clumsy game
selection interface, but it dares do what other generic game engines
do not, by representing games like Pacman and Tetris. It doesn't seem
to know how to play Pacman or Tetris, though.
- My monster truck rally fantasies come true with Soccar, "soccer for cars". I
think a lot of games could be improved by replacing the human sprites
with cars, actually.
- My other monster truck rally fantasies come true with the Robot Auto
Racing Simulation, where you program car-driving behavior into a
racecar and then race it against other, similarly-programmed cars. The
community has been running races since 1995.
Toppler is a clone of a game I remember being reviewed in a video
game magazine in the late 80s, thus proving that every game in the
world will eventually be cloned. You play a green creature who feels
that underwater towers these days have gotten just too tall and been
built up too far out of the water, so it decides to knock them
down. Fortunately things have been arranged so that getting to the top
of the tower knocks the whole thing down to the waterline, so that's
all you have to do. Then you get in your little yellow submarine and
shoot missiles at fish (Seriously! Was that in the original? I was thinking "This is a nice cut scene, but it's going on too long," hit the space bar, and blew up a fish.). The
game is cute and fun, but difficult in arbitrary ways (things coming
out of nowhere to knock you over); I played for far too long before
toppling my first tower. The boards have cool names like "Tower of
Eyes" and "Realm of Robots", though.
- Updated Games Mini-Roundup
These games have already been featured in a Game Roundup (and/or
they're games I talk about all the time outside of Game Roundups), but
I'm mentioning them again because they've been updated recently.
- Death awaits you in the CAVEZ of PHEAR, an
ncurses version of Boulderdash that really captures the look and feel
of an old ANSI DOS game (and thus meets my standards of excellence).
- Bad Onion
is a platform game where you play an onion who supposedly has an
"attitude", though he doesn't let it interfere with his work. Not that
exciting, but the graphics make you feel good about stomping on the
enemies. They deserve to be stomped!
Today's winner: The Bub's Brothers,
hands down. It gets the traditional prize of a limerick:
While playing that game with a bubble
My keyboard was worn to a nubble
So much time had elapsed
And I was surrounded by rubble
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