Keyboard Geniuses

PAPA Tournament: Kid and dad

A Night At The Space Opera

Highlights from the week’s comment threads.

By Matt Gerardi • August 17, 2012

Keyboard Geniuses is our weekly glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the Gameological discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity. You can follow the links to see the full threads.

Hangin’ In Them Dusty Arcades

Photographer Brian Taylor went to the Professional & Amateur Pinball Association’s 15th World Pinball Championships. Lucky for us, he brought back some photos. The pinball pictorial triggered some serious nostalgia for some commenters. Zack Handlen recalled his own journey to a pinball tournament:

I got to go to an in-house tournament here in Maine a year or so ago; it wasn’t anything super official, just this guy who fixes pinball machines who likes to get a bunch of people in his house and let them have at for a couple hours. It was a lot of fun, though. The host must have had something in the area of 20 working machines, and half a dozen or more busted ones stuck off in the corner of his basement. People came in from all over, including a group of pinball enthusiasts from Massachusetts—some of them even had national rankings, although I have no idea if any of them were good (apart from the fact that they all kicked my ass, which is, given my skill level, essentially meaningless). Most everyone was nice, although as with seemingly every geeky subculture, you had some social dysfunction, some guys who talked to the floor in half-sentences, and at least one dude who was really, really upset when a machine went tilt on him. He yelled like he thought the flippers were going to argue with him. I thought he was going to punch someone.

As for the tournament, if you’re curious, the host ran it like a golf game: he picked out eighteen machines, and set a point goal for each one. We were arranged into teams of four, and each member of each team had four tries to hit the score that was set for each particular pinball game. If it took you more than four times, you just put down “4” on your score card, because otherwise it would have taken the whole damn night. The older machines were very tough, in a way that reminds of me of early video games.

As some who liked pinball, but had never had much chance to play outside of video games, I found it fascinating that there really was a strategy, however minimal—it wasn’t just a matter of keeping the ball going as long as possible (although obviously that’s important), but of trying to aim for certain spots on the board. There were dead zones, and sweet spots, and even if you knew where all the best places to shoot for were, you had to keep in mind that, on a lot of machines, the order of when you hit those spots would have a significant effect on your score.

Elsewhere, stakkalee shared the touching story of childhood summers spent in a New England arcade:

My family used to take trips up to the Massachusetts coast in the summers back in elementary school, and there was this arcade/fun-center type place. I don’t even remember the name now. Each kid got $20, and off you went. (Back when games were a quarter, $20 was some serious scratch.) My brothers would split up, one to the fighting games, one to the skee-ball (to win some tickets, dontchaknow—how else are you going to get that mustache comb, or the candy cigarettes?).

I’d usually hit the driving-sim games, but sometimes I’d wander into that separate room, where all the pinball machines were, and however loud the rest of the building was, that room was always louder. There weren’t many kids in that room, kids my age. Sure, there were some surly teenagers, but they might as well have been adults for all the difference it made to me; the rest were real adults (guys who were probably younger than I am now), and they were serious players. It was less about having fun (not that they weren’t having fun) and more about beating the machine, being better than the other players. It was the ’80s, so the room, in addition to being loud, was full of cigarette smoke, absolutely full. And sometimes, even though I knew my mother didn’t want me in that room, sometimes I’d wander in there and drop a few quarters in one of the machines. I had to drag a chair over so I could see what I was doing. Of course I was terrible, and I’d get frustrated real quick, but for a few moments I could pretend to be a grown-up, playing a grown-up game.

I got my first kiss at that place, too, from the daughter of my mother’s high school friend, as we wandered off one time to get some fried dough. Part of me wishes I could remember the name of that place, and another part knows it’s best left in the past.

Chariots Of Ire
London Olympics Finale

While I think it’s safe to say the Olympics won over Ellie Gibson after all, the closing ceremony certainly didn’t help their case. Captain Internet summed up the badness quite nicely:

It came across as someone thumbing through iTunes and firing off emails to musicians until the budget was used up. Someone whose iTunes library has some very big gaps in it. I think it probably worked a lot better inside their head, especially the bit with Madness that was recycled from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Personal highlights: Eric Idle saying “shit” in front of the entire world, the Pet Shop Boys, Muse, Ray Davies, all the tipsy athletes, and [London mayor] Boris Johnson dancing to the Spice Girls.

The low point was obviously Russell Brand, because he’s the low point of everything, but it was compounded by getting him to sing a song about how brilliant drugs are while he’s promoting a new show on BBC3 about, er, his drug addiction. Oh, and that weird montage of people crying because they’d lost was a bit fucked up.

Anyway, the Olympics were brilliant. And we’ve got the Paralympics in two weeks. Hopefully everyone will stay happy for all of that too. I’ll be really sad when “sport” in the country goes back to meaning “football.” John Terry droning on about a Chelsea score-draw is not a patch on Robert Harting winning the Discus.

Besides, we’re shit at football, and it’s time we admitted it.

A History Of Violence
Medal Of Honor Voodoo Hawk ax

Ryan Smith wrote a For Your Consideration piece about EA’s shady marketing partnerships with the weapons makers featured in the studio’s Medal Of Honor series. Since the piece was published, the ensuing discussion around the web has prompted EA to remove the weapon-purchase links from its website and to cancel a Medal Of Honor-branded tomahawk that was slated for release in conjunction with the game. (Eurogamer has the details.) So, well done, Ryan.

In the comments on the piece, HobbesMkii offered up an interesting theory on video game-related violence:

For a long time, I’ve noticed a knee-jerk reaction among gamers to deny, deny, deny whenever someone points out that there could be link between violence and video games. Somewhere along the line, the people who made those links became people like Jack Thompson, who’d blame video games up and down for all violent crime in America and other countries, and that seems to have radicalized gamers to be the exact opposite crazy—if violence occurs, it must have been from some other source; video games can have no effect.

Perhaps it’s solely my contradictory nature that when everyone goes right, I go left, but it feels to me as if the answer is, of course, a place in between both sides.

For me, it ties into the argument of games as art. Art inspires some people to violence. I’m not saying it inspires people in their right mind to violence, but those who are willing to do violence can be set off by the right piece of art. Clarence Darrow once argued (successfully) that Nietzsche’s writing caused two boys to murder a third. The Nazis used “degenerate” art as justification to imprison artists (and many other totalitarian states have done violence to artists whose work gets too political).

It seems naïve, to me, that anyone could argue games are incapable of causing violence in some way, then, especially if that person also argues for games as art. And when the game seems manufactured to move weapons, like the ’80s Saturday morning cartoons were manufactured to sell toys, well, it seems harder still for anyone in their right minds to deny linkage.

That said, outside of getting away from adver-gaming, I’m not sure there’s much to be done. Like I said, I doubt anyone who is of a sound mind would be moved to violence by a video game. And there will always be people who aren’t capable of restraining themselves from violence who can be set off by such things.

AHyperkineticLagomorph followed up with:

I think part of the problem is we tend to only focus on direct causality when it comes to violence. I don’t particularly buy, for instance, that Grand Theft Auto made a kid shoot someone. It is certainly plausible that some kid played the game and was inspired to do so, but I would put forward the idea that a person who plays one game and gets an uncontrollable notion to mimic it in real life was not mentally sound to begin with and would likely have reacted to the next piece of violent media. Someone who can’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy or can but don’t have any sense of empathy are already crazy. A lack of violent games won’t change that.

However, it is as you said, games are art. Art is a part of our culture. And culture, as much as some may like to think otherwise, shapes our viewpoints. We grow and adapt with it. Call Of Duty will not make a generation into the types of people who carry assault rifles everywhere, but they are a part of a culture that is approving of cold soldiers. How one even begins to fix a culture, though, is far beyond me.

In response, Girard offered up a book that might offer some more insights into learning to kill:

Anyone interested in this stuff might enjoy Dave Grossman’s super-interesting book On Killing: The Psychological Cost Of Learning To Kill In War And Society.

Grossman is a military man, so the book isn’t overly reactionary or pacifistic, making it feel rather more measured and well-argued (and I say this as an often-reactionary pacifist). He looks at a variety of data showing how, prior to mechanized units being introduced in battle, casualties were lower, and intentional misfires were higher, as soldiers tended to practice a kind of “silent protest” by simply not firing their weapons, or firing over their enemies’ heads, to psychologically insulate themselves from the prospect of killing. (For instance, excavations of Civil War battlegrounds turn up TONs of rifles with multiple charges loaded in the barrel, because soldiers were pantomiming firing, then re-loading their still-loaded rifles.) His thesis is that people have an extremely strong psychological aversion to killing other people, and that conditioning away from that aversion, while “necessary” for military victory, can also have a high psychological cost.

I may not be representing it well, but it’s a really interesting book. I heard about it in an interview with Evan Wright about his great book and TV series Generation Kill, if that lends it any more credence.

In Space, Nobody Can Hear You Choose
Wing Commander III

Drew Toal brought us a look at the ending of Wing Commader III, a game he credited with resisting the allure of the universe-reset button—unlike that other space opera, Mass Effect. SisterMaryFrancis relayed some logical criticisms of the Mass Effect 3 ending:

I just didn’t like the fact that the Shepard I made was a guy who was willing to fight for his people and crew, and question orders when I wasn’t convinced they were the best option, only to have him get to the endgame and take everything being told to him at face value. I don’t mind having my character die. Hell, I wouldn’t even mind if all the Council and Alliance species died out. But last time I checked, I brought the largest fleet ever down to Earth, and they were kicking some Reaper ass. Why then does my Shepard, a guy who has a history of resistance and 3 KO record against reporters, suddenly get suckered into every word of some AI program just because it looks like a kid he met once? At least let me try to fight back.

I just want to be able to at least say “screw your choices” and kick that damn dream kid in the ’nads.

And Spacemonkey Mafia gave some thoughts on the awkward adolescence of mid-’90s video game graphics:

You know that obligatory scene in every contemporary werewolf movie that depicts the character’s first transformation in a lovingly indulgent extended change sequence? And how the mid-point of the change is always defined by a total body-horror grotesquery of malformed limbs, throbbing viscera and emergent wolfen traits growing tumorous on the person’s flesh?

First generation polygon and Full Motion Video are the werewolf transformation scene of video games.

Comment Cat Art Gallery

Hey, folks, it’s John Teti here with a couple of late additions. If you've ever had an interest in tinkering around with game-making, you should check out the comments on Matt Kodner’s interview with a couple of fledgling browser-game devs. A bunch of readers shared tips for software that makes game creation relatively straightforward.

We all continue to be amazed and amused by the readers’ artistic talents. That sharp new Comment Cat art on the front page? That comes courtesy of aforementioned Gameological reader Spacemonkey Mafia, known in his non-comment-thread life as Nick Wanserski. Awesome work! My favorite touch is the fish lampshade.

Comment Cat at work

And Girard imagined what The Digest might look like as an Atari 2600 cartridge. It may be a less flattering likeness than last week’s secret history of The Digest by Effigy Power, but it is no less accurate. Never has the experience of eating a Lucky Charms cereal bar been so compellingly rendered.

The Digest for Atari 2600

That does it for another week in Gameological. We’ll see you all on Monday.

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330 Responses to “A Night At The Space Opera”

  1. caspiancomic says:

    !!!!WARNING: Utterly uninhibited self-prostitution to follow!!!!

    So last week I mentioned I was writing a dissertation of sorts on Ice-Pick Lodge’s The Void. And, well, here it is! I’m planning on keeping that site updated fairly regularly with my own warmed-over ruminations about certain games, so if that strikes your fancy, by all means keep an ear to the ground. I even installed Disqus, in case you guys want to bring the party to my place instead of cluttering up poor Soupy’s little slice of Gameological.

    But enough about me, god damn were this week’s comments rad. I didn’t realize Spacemonkey and Girard were such talents. And I’m glad to see Stak getting recognized for his pinball stories- that was probably my favourite comment this week.

    • caspiancomic says:

       Oh, and just in case you’re the type to read comments but not follow links, I’ll implore everyone here, too: Ice-Pick Lodge is running a Kickstarter for their next game, Knock-knock. I highly recommend checking it out- you can pick up the game for a song, and nobody, and I mean nobody, makes games like Ice-Pick.

      • caspiancomic says:

         Although, hmm… if you’re not the type to follow links you’re not very well going to follow that link to the Kickstarter are you… and now, here I am, sitting in a car by myself… uh, talking to myself. Now that’s! That’s… chaos.

      • The_Misanthrope says:

         That Kickstarter pitch was perhaps the most nonsensical pitch I’ve ever seen.  Still, it looks like a really cool game, so when I actually have money to burn (or singe lightly), I’ll probably throw it their way.

      • Effigy_Power says:

         Maniac Mansion meets Salad Fingers.
        Very odd.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      I wasn’t going to read it in order to avoid seeming to fraternize with someone I compete with for Soupy’s crown, but it was just too damn well written and illustrated.
      -shakes fist- Damn you, @caspiancomic:disqus.

    • HobbesMkii says:

      I was gonna start playing this game last week, but then I ordered a new graphics card. So, I guess I’ll start this week.

    • stakkalee says:

      Thanks dude.  I’ve added you to my feed, and I’m going to read your article just as soon as I can send my family back down to Florida.

      I know there are a few other commenters running blogs – it’s tempting me to go dust mine off.  I stopped writing it years ago, but maybe it’s time to revisit it.  Also, if there’s any other commenters out there with blogs I hope you’ll share them with the rest of us.  I think the more we can turn these comments into a community, the better,

      • caspiancomic says:

         Do it dood! I’m in the process of bringing my dead-and-buried comic back to life after two years, so it’s never too late! I’d love to see anything else you’ve written, your comments here on the site are always enlightening.

      • doyourealize says:

        I did the same, though it was just a Google blogger, not my own page really. It opened with a best-of the decade list, and then I started writing a retrospective of how my life coincides with new releases of Final Fantasy games. I only got to part two (which was about FFIII, since I never played II, and these are American release numbers, in case FF numerology needed to be any more confusing).

    • doyourealize says:

      Didn’t read this yet. I started to and then hesitated because there’s still a part of me that wants to play the game, and this looks like something I’d want to read when I could compare experiences.

      I did, however, just want to say thanks for sharing, and that goes for @Effigy_Power:disqus , @girard:disqus , @mooy:disqus , the Photos if Spiderman guys (any Sawbuck games creators really), the guys who get paid to write this stuff, and anyone else I’m forgetting. From someone who has written stories and blogs that have never been shared (hell, I’ve written Gameological comments that I put a good amount of thought into and just delete in the end), I know how hard it is to throw something out there and say, “Here! I made this!” I don’t know if it ever becomes comfortable, but I do know I was more comfortable sharing my stories in college fiction writing classes, even though sometimes they got ripped apart right in front of my face (they were also praised sometimes). But that was when it was a regular thing for me to put something on paper/screen and let everyone read it. Now it’s not regular, and it’s a lot harder to do. And, well, I guess I admire your confidence.

      So keep ’em coming!

      • caspiancomic says:

         Aww, shucks. And here I was worrying that people would quite rightly tell me to stuff my blog and sling my hook. And I totally intend to keep ’em coming. The tentative plan is to have a “flavour of the month” that I spend a few weeks exploring in various ways, before moving on to a new topic. So probably the next couple of entries from me are going to be related to The Void, and then I’ll move onto a new topic once I’ve said my fill on this one.

      • Staggering Stew Bum says:

        Don’t worry @doyourealize:disqus , you’ve just gotten to the age where you no longer have the will to struggle against the constant setbacks and disappointment of everyday life and have finally turned into an empty and broken husk. Welcome to the club! We don’t much like sharing creativity here.

        • doyourealize says:

          That’s depressing and, because of your comment, I will be reinvigorated for the next few minutes.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        Try submitting your writing for publication. It’s like having your class writing ripped apart, except you don’t know what killed it or when that thing will strike again.

        • doyourealize says:

          Oh, I have. Not enough to have ever been accepted, but I’ve submitted a few pieces and entered some contests. All I have to show for it is some complimentary literary mags.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Thanks for the word of support, it’s much appreciated. As for yourself, I’m afraid I haven’t had the opportunity to get through your comprehensive write up, but are all the accompanying illustrations yours? I’d like to see more.

      • caspiancomic says:

         I guess it did end up running a bit long (almost 6000 words, I think?), so I don’t blame you for taking your time with it.

        But yeah, the illustrations are all mine. Each one took somewhere between 20 and 40 minutes, I guess? Speedpaintings, really. They sort of oscillate in style (and quality) but I’ve always kind of been like that. If you glance at my now dust-covered comic (from which I take my handle) you’ll see the style change from chapter to chapter. It’s also a depository of some of my other work, if you’re genuinely curious. Be warned: the earliest chapters are four years old and absolutely awful.

        Actually, between your avatar and your Soupy portrait, I’d love to see more of your work, SPM. You have a gallery somewhere?

  2. Effigy_Power says:

    May I just once again make it clear that even though these two pics seem a lot more put together than mine, I did it first… is… is that persuading anyone into thinking mine is the best? Yes? No?

    It better be, or I will serve up a Teti/Heisler slashfic that will shake the foundation of the earth. -angry fist pose of foiled villain-

    • caspiancomic says:

       I’m not convinced! Certainly not! Better serve up some Teti/Heisler slash to… convince me…

      • Effigy_Power says:

         You really don’t want to call me out on that… I am just crazy enough to do it.

        • stakkalee says:

          Yeah, let’s all just take a step back here before this goes someplace … weird.

        • Girard says:

           I’d like to remind you to make good on this threat:

          “The next comic features @Girard:disqus and @caspiancomic:disqus in
          erotic clinch with a dead whale, ridiculing the democratic process and
          carrying signs with well-wishes for Syria’s president.”

        • Effigy_Power says:

          I can have multiple threats going.
          That’s how I roll.

    • Merve says:

      I just want to point out that I wrote the original GS slashfic.

      I don’t know why I’m pointing this out.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Doing it first has nothing to do with it. Doing it with elaborate pewter mugs and headwear has everything to do with it.

  3. HobbesMkii says:

    I’m posting Mooy’s Digest game screen again, because it deserves to be mentioned in this post:

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Wow, that’s gorgeous!

    • John Teti says:

      Oh crap. Mooy, I apologize, I just didn’t see that one. That is freaking fantastic. I will definitely post it next week to make sure the whole world sees it.

    • caspiancomic says:

       The first time I saw that I pressed damn near every button on my keyboard trying to get it to start. I want Teti/Heisler/Soupy cop-op platforming, Lost Vikings style!

  4. stakkalee says:

    And so we say goodbye to another week, and hello to our video game addictions!  Those are the best kind of addictions!

    First, the site stats.  I think Ryan Smith (who’s a lousy Facebook commenter, and thus untaggable) earned his Plaid Jacket this week – his article on EA’s marketing partnership with a variety of weapons manufacturers gave us the most-commented-upon post, with 332 comments (thanks, Kotaku-bounce!)  It also gave us the most-liked-comment, from @AHyperKineticLagomorph:disqus, with the first comment getting a staggering 44 likes!  Well done!  And of course we owe @GaryX:disqus a ton of gratitude for finding that “diamond in the rough!”  What can I say?  I think that pegs us pretty well, actually!

    Now on to Soupy’s favorites.  We’re welcoming @SisterMaryFrancis:disqus to the Plaid Jacket Club!  We hope you stick around – the more thoughtful voices the better!  Also, 4 members are getting their second pins – myself, @AHyperKineticLagomorph:disqus, @Captain_Internet:disqus, and the AVC’s own Zach Handlen (who comments with his Twitter account, so no tag for him!)  @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus gets 2 pins this week, bringing him to 5 total, and @HobbesMkii:disqus gets his sixth!

    And now, Soupy’s Choice.  It was a hard-fought battle, seemingly endless, but we finally have a victor!  @Girard:disqus, the Redoubtable Russian, delivered a knockout blow to the Compassionate Canadian, @caspiancomic:disqus!  Girard, with his 2 pins this week, now has a total of 10 comments, also netting him the “Perfect Ten” achievement, worth 100 GS points!  Congrats Girard!  If it had gone on any longer I was going to have to tip you off to the secret weakness of all Canadians.

    Finally, I want to give a little shoutout to @Merve:disqus, for leaving a comment on the EA piece using a 17-letter word, “multicollinearity”!  @Effigy_Power:disqus still holds the official KG record with “interconnectivity”, but I thought that was some impressive work from Merve. Congrats, buddy!  Looks like grad school is paying off!  And if you’re interested in topping that, may I suggest starting here?

    New this week, for only 1000 GS points total, the newest Gran Turismo 5 DLC!  Race the streets of 1970s Sofia in style with 20 new cars!  (Offer not valid in continental US, Atlantic or Pacific oceans, or anywhere else.)

    As always, have a great week, and keep it scintillating!

    • caspiancomic says:

      New Grande Tourism 5 DLC!?

      Oh man, I didn’t even notice that Girard absolutely crushed both @Effigy_Power:disqus and myself this week. *FIST SHAKE* But for real though, he totally earned it, particularly for that Atari cover. I’m also pretty fond of the nickname Compassionate Canadian.

      • stakkalee says:

        The Gran Turismo stuff is just a joke – I wanted to post that link to the Soviet car ads.  I just think it’s wonderful and sad and hilarious, like many things the Soviets did.

        • Electric Dragon says:

          How do you double the value of a Lada? Fill it with petrol.

          What’s the difference between a Lada and a golf ball? You can drive a golf ball more than 200 yards.

          What do you call a Lada at the top of a hill? A miracle.

          A man goes into a car repair shop. “Can I have a hub cap for a Lada please?” he says. The assistant thinks for a moment. “Sounds like a fair swap.”

        • Effigy_Power says:

          That Volga is actually a rolling thing of beauty.
          Sort of like American cars from that time, just not the size of an aircraft carrier.

      • Effigy_Power says:

         @caspiancomic:disqus may be content, but I will have bloody revenge. Third place… Bronze is for turning ugly baby shoes into ugly stuff to hang on the wall!
        You’ll all come to regret angering the Big Brie.

        That said, I really wasn’t on my game this week and I am not about to make drawing a GS comic a weekly thing, what with being lazy and all. Congrats to you, @Girard:disqus, you magnificent bastard.

    • doyourealize says:

      Bad news everyone. We are tagging Girard wrong. I hope this guy (who seems into techie things) isn’t being annoyed with Disqus emails. I think what you have to type is @bakana42:disqus .

      Edit: Yeah, that worked. Girard only works if he’s already in the thread.

      Edit #2: Gonna tag @Effigy_Power:disqus , too, since she tagged the techie Girard, too.

      • Effigy_Power says:

         You people with your more than one name.

        • blue vodka lemonade says:

           Disqus is a strange, scary land where even I know not my own name half the damn time.

        • doyourealize says:

          @green_gin_rickey:disqus Well, you’re green_gin_rickey, so it seems like you at least have a formula.

      • Girard says:

         Bakana42 is some stupid old embarassing highschool weaboo handle that I use as a throwaway name for some accounts, including, apparently, my first ever Disqus comment. It has apparently metasticized into my proper AVClub/Gameological account.

        Thanks a fucking lot, Disqus!

        • Fixda Fernback says:

          Hey, that’s alright! I ruined my AV Club profile pretty much by merging my Disqus one with it, and now my profile name is unclickable and I never get any more notifications for my name being tagged. Disqus is still one of the worst things on the internet (aside from Gawker’s new system), and I’m proud to have had my comment bitching about it forever immortalized as the lead-in image on the AV Club newswire about changing the comments style.

    • doyourealize says:

      I looked up “multicollinearity”, and I still don’t know what it means.

      • Merve says:

        Say you have 200 students taking a geography class. Among other assessments, there are two quizzes that every student takes: Quiz 1 is about cities of the world; Quiz 2 is about rivers. You’re trying to predict what any given student’s final mark in the class will be given his or her scores on the two quizzes.

        Presumably, the smartest students would get the highest scores on both quizzes, and least bright students would get the lowest scores on both quizzes, since both quizzes are measures of academic ability. There may be a few students who do well on one quiz and poorly on the other, but there won’t be many. Thus, the two quiz scores will be highly correlated.

        The phenomenon of multicollinearity arises when we try to determine the students’ final grades based on their quiz scores. If both scores are about the same for each student and are measures of his or her academic ability, then it will be difficult to disentangle one score’s predictive value from the other’s.

        To illustrate this more clearly, imagine that every student had gotten the exact same score on both quizzes. In that case, there’s no sensible way to derive a formula for predicting a student’s final grade. Is it 50% of the score on Quiz 1 plus 50% of the score on Quiz 2? 75/25? 25/75? 60/40? 100/0? There’s no way to tell. In this case, we have what’s called “perfect collinearity.”

        Back to the case where the two quiz scores are just highly correlated, but not exactly identical for every student. In this case, it’s still difficult to tell what the predictive value of each of the two scores is. Now, at least we can differentiate one score from the other, but they’re still so similar that it’s difficult to determine their predictive value.

        This situation, known as multicollinearity, is something that statisticians and econometricians run into all the time in real-world applications. There are many pairs or groups of variables that are highly correlated: years of education and test scores; days supply of medication and amount spent on medication; the various interest rates, such as the federal funds rate, the prime rate, and the interbank offer rate; etc. Both (all) variables in a pair (group) may have explanatory power in predicting a phenomenon, so statisticians and econometricians often have to find workarounds for situations when multicollinearity arises.

        • Effigy_Power says:

          If you need an explanation that long, it shouldn’t count.
          “Interconnectivity” just describes the inherent ability of devices to communicate with each other within a communication network.
          That makes my word, and by extension myself, much better, smarter and prettier.

    • HobbesMkii says:

       44 likes? But…but…Darwin Kong.

      • Effigy_Power says:

        That fact that the channel this ran on misnamed the title “Princess of the Universe” is either a hilarious typo or a slight against Freddy Mercury.

    • Fixda Fernback says:

      What if I were to tell you that I enjoy practicing sesquipedalianism? Then what would you think of @Effigy_Power:disqus (Damnit, nevermind, that’s only a tie… sigh) and @Merve2:disqus ‘s puny word choices? WHAT THEN?!?!

  5. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    Mass Effect 3 didn’t really make the form of the final AI some waifish moppet half-glimpsed five hours into the game, did they?
    So they decided to go full-on Jodie Foster ‘Contact’. That series has a curious ability to leap gracefully from set piece to set piece, only to stumble at the oddest times into a snake pit of cliches.

  6. Mr. Glitch says:

    Hi everybody, Mr. Glitch here with another classic game review.

    Castlevania: Bloodlines is the only Castlevania game released for the Sega Genesis, and canonically, it’s a bit of an oddball. Set in 1917, it attempts to incorporate the events of Bram Stoker’s novel into the Castlevania storyline. It’s an odd direction to take the series, and not particularly effective given how different the love-struck horndog Bram Stoker Dracula is from the all-powerful-master-of-darkness Castlevania Dracula. The game stars John Morris, the son of Quincey Morris from the novel and heir to the Belmont lineage. As a young boy, he witnessed his father commit the ultimate sacrifice to stop Dracula. Now, 10 years later, he and his hetero life-partner, Eric Lecarde, seek to stop the Countess Elizabeth Bartley (herself a reference to real-life crazy person Elizabeth Báthory) from resurrecting Dracula yet again. 

    The game begins in Dracula’s castle, in a nifty redux of level 1 from the original Castlevania. From there, the game heads to exotic locales, like a sinking temple in Greece, The Leaning Tower of Pisa and a munitions plant in Germany. Both John & Eric are playable characters, though not at the same time; deferring my dreams of a two-player co-op Castlevania game yet again. John uses the classic Belmont Whip, which he can aim in several directions, and use like a grappling hook to swing over gaps. Eric packs a lance that be spun around him, stabbed in several directions or used as an uber-pogo stick to vault himself high into the air. John and Eric can occasionally use these unique abilities to reach hidden areas or take alternate paths that the other can’t reach, but for the most part, they don’t affect the course of the game. Eric is a much more versatile character and more fun to play. Unlike John, he doesn’t have to be jumping to attack up, down or diagonally. His lance, though slower to attack, has a greater range than John’s whip. Eric’s pogo ability is both a potent attack and an effective way to escape danger, while John’s swing move leaves him vulnerable until he lands.

    As with previous Castlevania games, whipping candles releases power-ups, like the three (yep, only three) special weapons, red & blue gems that take the place of hearts and power those weapons, upgrades to your lance/whip, and extra lives. Hidden in certain breakable walls are delicious chops of walled-up, fossilized pork that restore your health and spell books that either grant you a whole mess of gems or imbue your weapon with holy flames and turn you into a vamp-slaughtering powerhouse… until you take a hit, and the effect disappears. The levels are pretty long, each one sporting a mini-boss and a main boss, but there are only six of them. On Easy, the entire game can be played through in maybe a couple of hours, but if you don’t feel like it, Castlevania: Bloodlines lets you save your game… using the worst password system since Guardian Legend! Man, I hate passwords.

    Castlevania: Bloodlines really dishes out the 16-bit spectacle. Konami used every graphical trick in the Genesis’ book to give the player such eye candy as towering, multi-jointed bosses, reflective water, and a Tower of Pisa that sways back & forth as you scale it. It’s easily one of the best-looking Genesis games, though at the cost of some pretty bad slow-down from time to time. The in-game music is equally superb. It was written by Michiru Yamane, who would go on to create the legendary musical score for Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night. It harkens back to previous Castlevania games, but without turning into a 16-bit needle drop. Unfortunately, the sound effects aren’t nearly as impressive. With few exceptions, they are some of the flattest, least-convincing and most uninspired FM-synthesized crap ever bleated out of the Genesis. The Sonic games, Lightening Force and even Konami’s own Contra: Hard Corps have terrific sound effects, so why Castlevania: Bloodlines comes up so short in this regard is beyond me.

    Then again, that’s pretty trivial compared Castlevania: Bloodlines’ stiff controls. Anyone who’s played the NES games knows too well that Simon Belmont moved and jumped like he kept a crucifix up his ass. Well, that same fate has befallen John and Eric because like their forbearer, they both chug slowly across the screen, and neither character can change direction mid-jump—a serious flaw for a game so reliant on tricky jumps and quick movements. The fact that Konami had already perfected Castlevania’s control scheme with Super Castlevania three years prior to Bloodlines makes this backslide both inexcusable and totally baffling. 

    If you’re a fan of the series and you prefer the simple, linear style of older Castlevania games to the Metroid-like RPGs they would become, Castlevania: Bloodlines is worth playing for both the nostalgia and the spectacle. Staying true to its oddball nature, Castlevania: Bloodlines has not seen any direct sequels or re-releases, so your best bet is to snag a copy off eBay and dust off the ol’ Genesis. 

    Thanks for reading my review. Next week, Bub & Bob buffalo baddies with bevies of bubbles in Bubble Bobble and Bust-A-Move!

    • Fixda Fernback says:

      Wasn’t Bloodlines also the title of the preface of Symphony of the Night, when you start as a Belmont (I think maybe Richter?) and fight Dracula, before you start the game proper as Alucard? Awesome review, and one of the few oldschool Castlevania games I neither owned nor played… I think I may have to go check it out. 

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        That was Castlevania: Rondo of Blood.  Or Dracula’s Kiss for American release, or Dracula X for… I dunno, Latverian release.
           I recently bought the PSP remaster solely to unlock the full copy of Symphony of the Night.
           Those pre-Metroidvania Belmonts move like the most geriatric group of heroes you could ever want protecting you from an absolute evil.

        • Fixda Fernback says:

          Close! Vampire’s Kiss, and that was for European. Here in America we indeed got Dracula X for SNES. A buddy of mine has all the oldschool NES and SNES US Castlevanias (And Mega-Mans, and Zeldas, and Contras, and Battletoads, and Double Dragons… what I’m saying is, the dude has a shitload of SNES and NES cartridges, I pretty much fucking hate him for his collection) and we play those shits all the time.

          And, yeah, after playing/falling in love with SOTN when I first purchased an XBox 360 long ago and bought it on XBLA, it’s been hard to go back to some of the first few Castlevanias. The jumping, oh god… why do they apparently all carry a quarry’s worth of rocks in their pockets? At least, they move as if they do.

      • caspiancomic says:

         Yeah, like @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus said, although the game refers to the level as “Bloodlines”, that’s actually a mistranslation. The intro stage to SOTN is a recreation of the final level of Rondo of Blood, which was I think recently re-released as Dracula X Chronicles for the PSP of all things.

        • Fixda Fernback says:

          Okay, I thought there was some weirdness to it, but I was sure I remembered it being called Bloodlines. I remember reading about all that on Wikipedia a long time ago, now that you’ve brought it up. And, this late in the PSP’s life I’m pretty tempted to buy one, I’ve not been an early adopter of handhelds since the GBA days, but now that the price has come down and there’s a decent back library, especially with stuff like portable Castlevania, it makes it extremely eye-catching.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      We pulled down a wall in our living room recently to put in some French doors, and there was a whole turkey leaning up against the struts behind the plaster.
         It most certainly did not give me my health back.

    • caspiancomic says:

       Oh man, a true co-op multiplayer Castlevania would be so rad. None of this Harmony of Despair stuff either. A game where every player has a different character with unique skills and movement options- think the four playable characters from Castlevania III- all tackle the same castle at the same time would be amazing. There would be certain obstacles that only one or two characters could circumnavigate, so the party would have to split up in different ways, and the paths would converge later on, or like there would be enemies that only one party member could defeat so the other three just have to run around and hope for the best… hahaha, yeah.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      Elizabeth Bathory btw is an interesting historical figure in that she was very likely a victim of church propaganda. The local leaders and devotees of Lutheranism were less than happy with a woman being in charge over holdings he coveted and as such used his influence to dispute her claim right after her husband died. Since Bathory was apparently quite beautiful, the whole story very quickly developed into the virgin-slaying, blood-bathing farce it is known as still today, down to the chain-driven flaying device with silver hooks at the end.
      There are a few different versions of this and I am sure the Castlevania one is by no means more or less accurate than that of the church.
      Plenty of historians believe the official story, but based on the fact that 17th century Hungarian politics were fraught with the conflict and land-grabbing between protestants and Russian Orthodox leaders, both who enriched themselves by denouncing followers, it’s at least fair to guess as to what really happened.

    • GhaleonQ says:

      Gallery Of Labyrinth/Portrait Of Ruin is actually a direct sequel.  Also, everything about it is phenomenal.  It brings combat to the fore more than any other in the series, including Rondo Of Blood and The Stolen Seal/Order Of Ecclesia. That’s because it’s not much like the older Castlevania games; it’s a bridge game like Rondo Of Blood and Nocturne In The Moonlight.

      Everyone should play it, as it’s 1 of the best games on the system, 1 of the best in the series (come on now, the SNES Castlevania remake), and it’s rather unique among 2-d action games, generally.

  7. Mr. Glitch says:

    Hi everybody. I’ve started posting previous game reviews on my very first, incredibly amateurish blog page. Check it out at I’m hoping to include screenshots and maybe even gameplay footage in future reviews.   

  8. ferrarimanf355 says:

    Anyone else playing Forza Motorsport 4?