Monday, December 31, 2012

Apocolypse When

Well here it is, the last post of the year. My only regret is that I don't personally know anyone who was anticipating Armageddon this last week, so I can't see how silly they must feel now. Oh well, there's always next year.

I wish I had more to tell you, but Lost Highway is developing pretty slowly right now. There's no area that looks good enough for a screenshot either. Besides, on the off chance that my sister reads this, I don't want her seeing anything. She's forbidden from seeing anything related to the map until it's done, then she'll be able to playtest it. But heck, who am I kidding. She doesn't read this.

In the meantime, here's some videos of me playing other people's custom maps (watch them all at the same time to pretend you're watching split screen multiplayer in GoldenEye or something):

This little scheme is actually getting pretty popular. Who knows, maybe I'll get internet famous with these. One thing I don't expect I'll do is commentaries as I play. Those videos irritate me more often then not and the person talking almost never have anything good to say. Besides, it distracts from the maps.

Lastly, here's a picture of a Tanji, you know, from the butterfly story.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Face Value

When you're going through you're daily routine do you ever stop and notice that some things are a Almost like your environment is...looking at you?

Don't worry, because chances are this is just a simple case of what's called Pareidolia. This is a psychological phenomena where sufficiently vague or random stimuli look suspiciously like a recognizable pattern, especially faces.

The Human brain is hardwired to see patterns in just about everything, even seemingly unrelated stimuli. It's our ability to find patterns and relationships that makes us such great scientists and detectives, because our brains can pick out abstract similarities between things we see and hear. But the pattern-finding process isn't infallible, sometimes people see relationships in stimuli even when there isn't actually any relationship at all. This is how superstitions get started; people perceive two unrelated events and start imagining all sorts of wild relationships between them. It's like how people think breaking mirrors is bad luck. Maybe at one point someone broke a mirror and then, by completely unrelated circumstances, things started going wrong for them. Maybe their sure-fire investment strategy went bad or something.

To an outside observer, the mirror breaking and the bad investment are unrelated, but to the person experiencing these events first hand they feel like maybe, just maybe, one caused the other. They don't rightly have proof that mirrors can influence their luck, but they have a hunch. Thus, a superstition is born!

Pareidolia is a related concept, because our ability to recognize patterns isn't just limited to our perception of cause and effect. It's also deeply ingrained in how we recognize faces. Because really, what is a face? It's a recognizable pattern: two eyes, a nose, a mouth, a mustache, etc.

Well, sometimes we see the recognizable pattern of a fellow Human's face even when what we're looking at isn't a face at all, it's an electrical outlet. Our brain is telling us it's a face, because the various details of the object look just enough like something familiar to set off those little signals in the brain. We know it's not a person, but that doesn't stop us from thinking "Hey, it looks like that socket is frowning!".

Fun-hating skeptics have been using Pareidolia to explain away plenty of conspiracy theories. Probably the best known example is the so-called Face on Mars. Back when it was first discovered, the face caused a huge stir and got people thinking Martians had carved it into the mountain. But eventually it became obvious that the face was just the result of shadows hitting the rock in such a way as to make it look eerily like a face, but wasn't actually one.

The same goes for people who say they've found Jesus in their toast. It's probably not actually Jesus, it just looks a lot like him.

In fact, next time you think the Virgin Mary is watching you just remember: it's probably your brain playing tricks on you.

I mean, how gullible do you have to be to believe this stuff? What, you really think random objects are watching you?

You'd have to be pretty superstitious to get that carried away. You know what this is? People letting their imaginations get the better of them.

I mean, that's classic animistic thinking...there's no way...that mountain is secretly Ted Danson.

...and that...


Oh my god...

Monday, December 17, 2012

This Is Terrible

I've finally gotten the hang of Dwarf Fortress and can play the game with a reasonable degree of competence. The military menu is still pretty dense and the finer points of burrows elude me, but as far as forts go I feel like mine are fine examples of Dwarven architecture.

This is the world I've generated and will probably be the one I use the most for a while since it's so big and spacious. The parameters for mineral content was set to extremely high, so gems and metal occur world-wide with great frequency. Besides that, I ramped up beast frequency to extremely high so the planet is absolutely infested with strange mystical creatures. Finally, I set the established history to extremely short. Basically, this means that every civilization is just starting out, with no huge fortresses or cities established yet. The world is untamed and largely unexplored so there's no telling what's out there in the steamy jungles.

Oh and it certainly is jungles. Like, jungles galore. All the green spaces you see are grasslands, the darker the shade of green the more thick the vegetation. The yellow regions are deserts, the grey stands for mountain ranges and blue is the arctic where there are few resources and building a fortress is exceedingly difficult.

Oh yeah, the purple? Those are evil regions. It's even more impossible to survive there then in the frozen wastelands. In evil regions the rain is acidic and will melt your Dwarves' skin off. Then they turn into zombies and attack your other dwarves assuming they aren't already killed by any of the multitude of horrible ungodly monsters that live there. I...haven't tried embarking in an evil region yet. But if I do I don't expect to stick around long.

In any case, we have a brand new world with thousands of years of history to look forward to, exquisite riches and adventure to be found. And thus the dwarves struck the earth and founded...


It's a great tradition among my Dwarves to name things after bees, since their national drink is mead and their largest food industry is almost always honey. Beebane was established next to one of the largest rivers in the world, on the south western continent. If you look on the map you can probably see it, it's the omega symbol out in the middle of the jungle.

For the first couple years the fortress prospered. We indulged in every industry we could (except glassmaking, that's lame), with an entire layer of the fort dedicated to our workshops. The grand dining hall was also on this level, it's walls covered in engravings of the deeds of our great civilization.

But suddenly disaster struck. We were attacked by a werecreature, not a run-of-the-mill werewolf, Oh no. A werekangaroo. It killed our best trader before our squad (The Beekeepers) could drive it away, leaving us more or less unprepared for our next caravan. But besides this bizarre little incident, things generally went well in the early days of Beebane. Migrants came in huge waves every year, faster than we could even build beds for them. We had quickly become a bastion of Dwarven civilization, with a staggering two-hundred occupants. It was without a doubt the most well-populated fort I had maintained yet.

Our miners were kept constantly busy, hunting for more gems for trade and stone to build statues as monuments to our greatness. In no time at all they found this, a huge, sprawling cavern deep under the earth. It was so large it extended past the screen in practically every direction, linking to further, yet unseen underground regions. We might have found the beginning of an entire underground ecosystem for all we knew.

But, uh, things started to go downhill...

...things went downhill very quickly.

Our first Human caravan had just rolled in, wanting to trade for our vast coffers of gems. All was fine and good at first, but just as they started unloading their goods a Goblin siege appeared. A big one. Hundreds of goblins appeared on the screen and charged down the hill, making a beeline for the trade depot. Panicking dwarves scattered in every direction. The humans defended their caravan as best they could but were slowly whittled down until they all laid dead in front of the fort. The goblins were killing everything in sight, including our prized reindeer. I could only watch helplessly as my military completely failed to kill any of the invaders. More and more dwarves were conscripted into the army in a desperate attempt to defend the fortress. Engravers, gem workers, mechanics, cooks, farmers. All of them poured out of the fort to beat the goblins to death with their bare hands.

Practically all of the goblins were dead by the time the slaughter had swung into high gear, but our population was completely devastated by the effort. By the time we had shaved the enemy forces down to a single goblin our population had shrank all the way down to less than thirty dwarves. Most of the survivors were children who escaped by hiding the the lowest levels of the fort. Despite this, most of them saw their own parents go up to the surface and die horribly. Naturally...they weren't happy about this.

In fact, it drove every last on of them insane. In a few short minutes my fort went from a thriving community to a slaughterhouse, with hundreds of dead humans, goblins and dwarves littering the entrance. A disturbing recreation of Lord of the Flies was occurring downstairs, with insane children beating each other to death. By this point they were the only ones still alive in the fort and I had nothing left to do but watch and wait for them all to die of dehydration. Eventually the last of the goblins wandered away, hopefully traumatized by the ridiculously over-the-top disaster it was a part of. I hope he goes to live in the woods, haunted by the screams of dying dwarves until he gets eaten by dingos.

Beebane was a complete disaster. It's once proud walls, engraved with scenes of the greatest moments of our history were stained with the blood of the children who were born in it's very depths. The only survivor was a single tamed leopard. Someone's pet once, now just another wild animal, scavenging off the corpses of dwarf children. No doubt ministerial will sing of the tragedy of Beebane, the fortress destroyed by it's own hubris (and goblins) and of the leopard that managed to escape the madness.

Goodbye Beebane, your legacy will live on.

For what it's worth I've started a game in adventure mode in another, much smaller, world. Say hi to Shad Grimgrave, his hobbies include crab hunting and troglodyte slaying. He's a human Outsider, meaning he doesn't belong to any civilization in particular and starts the game with nothing but a copper spear and dagger. I do mean nothing by the way, not even pants. I'll be sure to keep you informed on his adventures, assuming he isn't killed by giant sparrows or dingos.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I've Lost Control of My Life

Hey everybody, I just really wanted to make a post today seeing as how it's 12/12/12 and all. I've been working this week and today in particular has been particularly hectic so I haven't had the opportunity to gather my thoughts for a proper post about Space Balls or Daleks or whatever. Instead, enjoy a few pictures I found in one of my old folders:

See you dweebs tomorrow.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Bunday lives on! In today's installment, the indomitable might of the Angora Rabbit:

The world will be engulfed by their luxurious coats. Nothing can escape.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Great Sea Urchin Ceviche

Well everyone, it's December and you know what that means: Festivus is upon us! Time to get out the official aluminum Festivus poles, it's time to get in gear for the holiday season where we can all brood on how we've wronged each other this year.

In the meantime, enjoy this mutant offspring of microfiction I like to call...

Unspoken Agreements

Friday. Robin was itching to leave, as usual. No doubt he'd invite Jacobs to go clubbing. In the meantime both were stuck in a board meeting, along with everyone else in mergers and acquisitions. Jacobs couldn't concentrate: but he wasn't daydreaming about the weekend, or even his reservation at Celine's. He was squirming in his seat, breaking out in a cold sweat no one noticed. The tie around his neck felt like a noose. What if he couldn't pay them off? He's had close calls before, but nothing like this. This O'Brian person had been hounding him for months now, this threats were getting more persistent.

"Hey Jacobs," Robin said. "Still up for Celine's tonight?"


"Your friend O'Brian hooked me up. Y'know, the good stuff."

"About him-"

Jacobs couldn't afford this lifestyle anymore. If O'Brian had his way, who knew what would happen. Jacobs had never even seen him, yet, he felt like O'Brian controlled his life. Suddenly, the office seemed darker. Time slowed down, Jacobs felt life he was having a panic attack. Everyone in the room stopped. Above the conference table was a point, not of darkness, but a void. As if space and time ceased to exist, there was an intangible spot of nothingness; an absence of sight, sound, order or chaos. From this blind spot emerged a shape, an otherworldly presence barely comprehensible to Jacobs. It reached out and snaked around the room. It was lined with suction cups, each with infinitely many rasping needle-like teeth. Other tentacles joined it, swaying rhythmically, hypnotically, like waves in some alien ocean.

"You know why I'm here." It said.

"Are you O'Brian?"


"Look...I'll get the money. I promise!"

"I don't want money, I don't want anything you can offer me."

"I don't understand."

"You will. The prince isn't yours to pay, not yet."