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[Comments] (2) The Ur-Quan Masters: I spent most of yesterday playing this game, a fun space adventure. A.k.a. Star Control 2, as seen in Bob the Angry Flower.

Looking back through the mists of time, I thought I remembered seeing a box for this game in Software Etc. when I was a kid, and wanting to buy it but not having the money. But I was wrong; it was a similar game called Starflight 2. What I remember accurately is the source code for this game being made freely available a few years back. Now the game has been ported to modern platforms and it's in Debian, with goofy voice acting and everything.

This is an excellent game with some serious gameplay problems. The story is like a good text adventure, complex and nonlinear, with strong characterization (though all the characterization happens on the species level: you never see two named members of a species, for instance) and lots of dialogue and backstory. There's also a Spacewar sub-game that looks perfectly fine but I skipped it because I was more interested in the adventure game.

The problems are with the other sub-game, a resource-gathering-fest that takes all the fun out of exploring the universe. Just like in real life there are too many stars, they're too widely spread apart, it takes forever to navigate within a solar system, and most of the planets have few points of interest. But you spend most of the game going around poking at planets for resources. The entire game universe starts to look like a big copy protection scheme, and the various hint guides, with their huge tables, take on the appearance of the manual that has the secret numbers you need to complete the game in the time limit provided.

So, I guess I'd like to see it turned into something more like a Maniac Mansion type graphic adventure, is what I'm saying. Fun game though.

: This is odd. Jaime Weinman embedded a 1954 (according to IMDB; internal copyright date is 1953) Warner Brothers cartoon called "Design for Leaving". The title makes it sound like a parody of the classic Populuxe short "Design for Dreaming", and that's exactly what it is. But "Design for Dreaming" didn't come out until 1956. Time paradox? Or something more sinister?

I really have no idea. In 1942, Unknown magazine published a story by Henry Kuttner called "Design for Dreaming". That's the only earlier reference to the phrase I can find. It's barely possible that DfD was a transient catchphrase that was in the public consciousness at the time but that rarely showed up in ways visible to search engines. Otherwise, I gotta go with time paradox.

Update: There's a 1933 film called "Design for Living", which takes care of the cartoon's title. Depending on your tolerance for time paradox this might move into the realm of coincidence the fact that the cartoon parodies a short that doesn't exist yet. Or did the short take its cue from the cartoon?

: Ah... Chocolate: or, An Indian Drinke is good for what ails me. "The ensuing tract" is an all-time classic of old-time rhetoric, vocabulary, and orthography, devoted to the awesomeness of the newfangled chocolate. It starts with a a poem that banishes the quackery of Extraordinary Popular Delusions in favor of much tastier Cosmopolitan-style quackery:

Tell us no more of Weapon-Salve,
But rather Doome us to a Grave:
For sure our wounds will Ulcerate,
Unlesse they’re wash’d with Chocolate.

And, of course, Receipts galore:

Of Cacaos, 700; of white Sugar, one pound and a halfe; Cinnamon, 2. ounces; of long red pepper, 14. of Cloves, halfe an ounce: Three Cods of the Logwood or Campeche tree; or in steade of that, the weight of 2. Reals, or a shilling of Anniseeds; as much of Agiote, as will give the colour, which is about the quantity of a Hasell-nut. Some put in Almons, kernells of Nuts, and Orenge-flower-water.

Concerning this Receipt I shall first say, This shooe will not fit every foote...

I love it! They shooehornèd extra vowels in everywhere!


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