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Because the real Opiate of the Asses goes by the name "Ego" now. Fuck you.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Spotlight on Games: LIMBO

LIMBO is a dark, Tim Burton-like gameplay driven platformer created by the Danish independent developer Playdead. At $9.99 on Steam, and usually half that price during sales, it's difficult to resist impulse-buying it. At first glance it seems like the average indie game, but playing through, you will realize it is well worth the buy.

A few things you should know before you play the game. It may seem like an art-driven game, and to a point it is, but it's actually very gameplay driven, relying on intense timing based puzzles and mechanics to convey a feeling of profound insignificance. The gameplay, combined with the soundtrack that ranges from creepy, to powerful to mellow, and the gloomy, to calming to outright scary art style, creates a powerful sense of intense purpose that does a great job of immersing you in the game. Also, if you own a controller, use that, as the keyboard controls are a bit laggy, and the controller matches the platformer style of the game much better.

Warning: Spoilers Here

You play as a small boy in a vast, surreal black and white world filled with dangers up the wazoo. The environment has a strong, ethereal and dreamlike feel, and seems to imply some sort of psychological analogy, also hinted at in the description on steam; "Uncertain of his sister's fate, a boy enters LIMBO..." Perhaps I'm just drawing parallels with the free flash game Coma, but the entire game feels like an analogy for an internal battle. The boy, the character you play is completely nonchalant and aloof, showing only an inkling of emotion with his body language at the very end. Throughout the entire game, bizarre, nightmarish beasts and vast, terrifying environments dictate the game, all seem to conspire against the boy. I interpreted this as an analogy for a mental battle of the boy coping with his sister's presumably grim fate. It also played off several seemingly innocent things kids do, such as pulling the legs off a daddy longlegs.

It's difficult to take each aspect of the game and explain how it affects the game as a whole, so I'm going to take certain parts of the game and pick them apart, explaining why each part worked.

First, we'll talk about something closer to the end of the game. Deep in the bowels of a dark, industrial section of the game, you flip a switch and the entire map starts turning clockwise, you have to time your jumps to climb onto the wall and avoid getting crushed. These scene is one of the most intense and immersive parts of the game. The game accomplishes this by limiting the light you have with a single swinging light bulb, and accenting the colossal feeling of the environment with a soundtrack of a deep, throbbing tone, intensifying the fear of the time-based puzzle.

There are countless scenes like this in the game, the developers did an incredible job of immersion by gameplay. Another excellent feature that added to the intensity is the autosave feature. The autosave points are just far apart enough so that you need to learn and know the terrain between them enough to feel like you are skillfully navigating the level, and it requires you to "practice", much like older games with no save feature. However, the autosave feature saves often enough that you don't lose a frustrating amount of progress if you die. In fact, the game did an excellent job of avoiding frustration, as the immersive nature made you feel more determined rather than frustrated when you die.

The physics system is also a work of art, the animations and physics of this two dimensional environment are so smooth, they become a major factor of the immersion, combined with the dark art style, it creates an interesting juxtaposition that adds to the pure surrealism, not to mention the added and more obvious juxtaposition of the young, innocent boy in a deadly, nightmarish world.

The setting itself seems to take place on the outskirts of a post-apocalyptic industrial city, and the game transitions from wild forests and fields with rural natives to the bowels of a sprawling, intimidating machine

There is so much I wish I could put into words about this game. I wasn't too impressed at first, but thinking back, I realized what an effect it had, and I was overtaken with the urge to play through again. It is worth the ten dollars, but my advice is to wait for it to go on sale.

Final Verdict: 8.3/10

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Microsoft Office

Today I got in a brief argument with someone bragging about being "certified" with Microsoft Office after taking a class on it.  Today I am going to explain why taking a class on common software like that is absolutely useless.

First, let's take a look at what the prerequisites and requirements are for taking the exam. For the sake of this post, let's take a look at Microsoft Office 2010. Microsoft provides a great page where you can look at the skills being measured in the exam. For the sake of brevity, I'm just going to look at Word 2010.

Microsoft Word 2010

Sharing and Maintaining Documents
-Applying different views to a document.
Basically all you have to know is go through and memorize the "view" tab. This shouldn't take more than 5-10 minutes to learn

-Apply protection to a document
I didn't actually know how to do this, so I googled it. The first link brought me to a page from Microsoft detailing exactly how to do it.

-Manage document versions
Basically, this is just opening the recovered files when you quit without saving.

-Share documents
If you have an email, you can already do this.

-Save a Document
Who the fuck doesn't know how to save a document?

-Add a template to a document
You don't even need to Google this to figure it out.

Formatting Content
-Apply and Manipulate page setup settings
Fuck around with that bar with the arrow and numbers on it.

-Apply Themes
Essentially the same thing as applying templates

-Construct content in a document using the quick parts tool
This sounds difficult. It's not. It's actually just pre-writing footnotes and watermarks and shit like that.

-Create and Manipulate Page Backgrounds
Again, easy as hell to figure out.

-Create and Modify Headers and Footers
If you've ever written any sort of research paper, you already know how to do this.

Creating Illustrations and Graphics in a Document
-Insert and format pictures in a document
-Insert format shapes, word art and smart art
-Insert and format clip art
-Apply and manipulate text boxes

This was any paper you wrote before 9th grade. If you don't know how to do any of this, you have to be literally retarded when it comes to computers.

Proofreading Documents
-Validate content by using spelling and grammar checking options.
First of all, you don't have to do this if you actually know anything about the English language. Second of all, this is just right clicking on the words that have that fucking red or green squiggly line underneath it.

-Configure Autocorrect Settings
If you've ever chosen the "add to dictionary" option, you know how to do this.

-Insert and modify comments in a document
This is actually a pretty cool feature used when multiple people are working on a document. It's incredibly user friendly. It takes less than 5 minutes to learn.

Applying References and Hyperlinks
-Apply a hyperlink
Easy as all fucking hell

-Create Endnotes and Footnotes in a document
Again, if you've ever done a research paper, you already know this

-Create a table of contents in a document
This barely has anything to Microsoft word, it's more about formatting it right, and that was already covered earlier.

Performing Mail Merge Operations
-Setup Mail Merge
-Execute Mail Merge

This may actually be the hardest part of the entire certification. But as it turns out, Microsoft Word practically does it for you.

There is absolutely no reason to take a class on anything Microsoft offers, because everything is user friendly, and pretty self explanatory, and Microsoft provides anything you could ever need to know about their programs for free. You can literally become a Microsoft Office Expert overnight. One week, or even one weekend fucking around with these programs and pages makes you as competent as you'll ever need to be.

Microsoft Office is fucking easy

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Truth is relative. There are very few truths that can be considered absolute. Truth depends on the person, the belief, the religion, the morality, truth changes drastically. You can argue for anythings falsity, you can argue that the earth is flat, that scientists lie to us, that magnets are "fucking miracles man", or that reptilian aliens rule the earth. These are the truths of the people I consider "ignorant shitheads". However, these people believe with the entirety of their being that the bullshit they are spewing is true.

My truths are very different, but I spew them with equal, if not more vigor. I've recently asked myself the question, why are my truths more true? What makes them different than all that moronic drivel? Today I am going to attempt to answer that question.

Let's start here. Truth does not exist beyond the human experience. Without humans, or any sort of consciousness observing the universe, there is nothing to say make observations or statements about it. The universe just is (or isn't, who the hell knows). Truth is an entirely human construct used in part to describe the world we live in. There aren't any real "universal truths" because the universe doesn't have truths. All we have are the "truths" that the human experience has created. This is a problem because the human experience itself is limited. We can't know everything, and what we know is based on either our observations, or the  observations of others, which also cannot be completely accurate. What we end up with is a mess of inaccuracy with is inherent in every truth and observation we have.

Now that was on hell of a digression, let's back up. We've established that truth is a purely human construct. When you look at it this way, nothing is true, because what is true for one person can be completely false for another. And yet nothing is false, because something that's false for one person can be completely true for another person.

What the actual fuck.

Let's take this in a completely different direction. Why to people believe in these personal truths? For me, my truths give me a sense of completeness and superiority, and give me a sense that the world I live in is beautiful and complex as it is enigmatic and chaotic. They give me a sense of awe and the sense that we, as humans, have a duty to find all of these "truths". For others, their personal truths may give them comfort in this scary and confusing world, and the sense that there is a simple world beyond and there is always a plan. I hold my truths in a sense of duty and awe at the world we live in.

But certainly there are things that are more true than others. My truths are based on the evidence we see in today's world, certainly that makes them more true than the "truths" that have no evidence behind them. I am, of course talking about the truths of science versus the truths of religion. If truth is a human concept meant to describe reality, then truths must be based in reality, they must be based on some sort of experience in order to be as true as they can be. Let's assume for the sake of this argument that the truths of religion are based on the experience of a few men, the founding preachers of that religion. If this proving experience is privy to these few men, then while the things they preach may be true, there is no evidence that others can experience. Scientific truths, on the other hand, is based on evidence anyone can see for themselves (most of the time. For some things you either have to take their word for it or learn a hell of a lot about mathematics and quantum physics.)

However, we must come back to the fact that we only have our perspective. We only have the world we experience through our own eyes. I believe my truths because I experience them. What I believe is true, makes it true. Other people do not experience the same world I do, and what they experience as truth may be completely different. Our consciousness, our being, is our entire world, and the only world we have. And within that world, that provincial self-awareness is where our truths lie. My truths are true because I experience them. Perhaps, other people are experiencing completely different worlds, with completely different truths.

But the truth is, we'll probably never know this for sure.