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"" -MasterHIM

November 17, 2017 - Caught Somewhere In Time

The recent sale of Sid Meier's Civilization 3 on GOG has inspired me to blow the dust off of one of my oldest modding projects and clean it up for a proper release. Somewhere In Time is my attempt at perfecting the rules of the original game, which is in my opinion the best of all the Civilization games, without bothering with all of the extra crap that the expansions bogged it down with. One of my biggest philosophies with modding and game design is that less is more, and in Civ3's case, less was a lot more. A extra-special thanks goes out to my man Hart for helping with the logo.

As for Brave New World, the next major update is currently mired in beta hell and will hopefully be out by the year's end. I'd like to thank everyone involved for their patience with getting everything sussed out. I need not look any further than the amazing community that has grown around my mod to know that Synchysi and I have truly accomplished something amazing with it. I love each and every one of you (except Scott - he's a dick).

November 11, 2017 - The Land Of The Free

So, today is the day that America has set aside to honor people who have served in its military. Speaking as someone who comes from a navy family but has never served, I just want to say that you need not subscribe to such jingoistic (or overdramatic) beliefs about our service personnel out there fighting for our freedoms and bald eagles and shit. These are just regular people who've stepped up to do a very unpleasant - and sometimes very dangerous - job, and it's because of them that the rest of us aren't forced into it. The least we can all do, regardless of how we feel about war or the practical joke gone too far we now call "president", is take a moment to let them know we appreciate them.

As for those who actually *are* out there fighting, it's up to us to make sure they've got a home worth coming back to.

October 27, 2017 - It's Raining Blood

Buffy The Vampire Slayer was a show that broke a lot of important ground, hence its enduring legacy even some twenty years after its release. Hell, it's even been studied at length in academia. But although it has many excellent and universally well-liked episodes, asking a typical Buffy fan what their favorite one is will invariably yield one of a very short list of usual suspects. Most likely, it will be the musical episode Once More With Feeling from the otherwise-lackluster season six. This is essentially Buffy's Stairway to Heaven (or Highway to Hell, if you're so inclined) in that any artistic merit it may have is completely overshadowed by that one obnoxious asshole who won't shut the fuck up about it out and Guitar Center employees will ask you to leave if you try to play anything from it. People who love this episode too much aren't quite at the level of "Mormons selling Amway" like, say, a typical Undertale fan is, but damn if they're not trying to be.

I mention this partly to apologize to non-fans of the show for these people (I am really, really sorry) and partly because my favorite episode is fairly well off of the beaten path of even just kind-of-liked episodes. Not that season three's openening act is a bad one by any means, but it's not something that tends to leave the same memorable impact as other offering like The Wish, Dopplegangland, or pretty much any other episode where Allison Hannigan is more bangable than usual. Quite to the contrary, Anne hardly features Willow at all - or any of the rest of the cast, for that matter - instead focusing on a very alone Buffy in Los Angeles attempting to skip out on fate and failing tragically to do so.

Anne is unusual for a Buffy episode in that it doesn't really feel like an episode of Buffy at all due in large part to the absence of a supporting cast to bounce quippy one-liners off of (although Buffy does manage to get a pretty good one in on a random NPC). In fact, Anne feels very much like an episode of Angel to the point where I'm convinced that it was used as a template for at least the entire first season. In a series where the isolation of being a real-life superhero is a primary overarching theme, one which is explored most notably and thoroughly in its fifth season, Anne stands out as the episode where it we see it on full display for the very first time and arguably at it absolute worst.

A key facet of the slayer mythos is a tendency towards a drastically reduced lifespan due to unfortunate death in glorious battle. Buffy's continued aversion of this typical fate as the seasons went on was attributed entirely to her friends and family - ties to the world that all slayers before her explicity lacked. The show explains this both metaphorically and quite literally when her friend(s) bring her back from being only mostly dead in Prophecy Girl and then then again from being all dead in Bargaining. Not counting the three months she spent in the ground leading up to season six (or her downward spiral of self-loathing throughout it), Anne marks the only point in the series in which Buffy is completely cut off from her entire support group. And the end result is, as you might expect, very dark.

The theme of isolation would carry Buffy clear through its polarizing final season and into its grand finale where it is addressed and ostensibly put to bed once and for all by means of Buffy sharing her power with every other girl in the world with the potential to bear it. I call season seven "polarizing" in part because it pretty much plays out like one long episode starting at Conversations With Dead People (which is itself very polarizing) and partly because its primary villain, the "First Evil", is fairly benign since it can't physically affect the world in any way (except for in the aforementioned Conversations With Dead People when the writers forgot that) due to the fact that it can't assume a corporeal form. It thus spends most of the season taunting Buffy and friends with varying degrees of success, culminating in a finale that ultimately gave us more questions than answers. Namely, who in the hell thought anything about Buffy's plan aside from the bit about giving her entire army slayer strength was even remotely a good idea?

To recap, season seven pits Buffy and a small group of "potential" (i.e. "just regular human strength") slayers up against a legion of the undead from the pits of Hell who are under the command of the spirit of original sin itself. The only things that Buffy has going for her are two Deus Ex Machinas and the fact that the undead army can't actually get to her world because the portal to Hell is completely sealed off and can only be opened from her side. Buffy deliberately opens said portal once she decides she's had enough of evil's shit and leads her redshirts into Hell to do battle rather than utilizing the manhole-sized portal as a strategic chokepoint since the enemy outnumbers her by about a thousand to one. And she does all of this before Willow does magic stuff with one of the aforementioned Deus Ex Machinas to activate everyone's Wonder Slayer powers just so it can be extra dramatic when they kick in at the precise moment an undead horde notices a small group of humans in their midst and attacks. It's also worth noting that the subsequent activation of the second Deus Ex Machina, which is the only reason that the entire cast didn't wind up as uber-vamp food, was purely unintentional since nobody - including the person wearing it - had the even slightest clue what it was.

In short, Buffy is a terrible leader.

Chosen bothered me for many years not because it sacrificed logistics to tell a good story, but because its numerous flaws all felt like bad writing that could have been easily explained had Joss even tried. It would make sense, for example, that the one uber-vamp sent up to the surface to fight Buffy earlier in the season would be stronger than all of the ones still stuck in Hell's boot camp, hence why even the likes of Andrew and Anya were mowing them down by the dozens. More importantly, Buffy's incredibly ill-advised assault could have saved much-needed face without sacrificing any drama by having her actually attempt to fight intelligently but then having her hand forced by, say, the portal to Hell breaking wide open when she activated it and spilling forth Hell's (not) Angels before her group had a chance to react. The fact that Buffy had at least the foresight to position her various "B" teams in places where she knew the uber-vamps would go if (when) they got past her primary group clearly showed that she was aware of the need to think her plan through so as not to get everyone killed, and that she makes an active decision not to just feels insulting. It wasn't until I was recently rewatching this episode for about the eighth time that its true message finally dawned on me.

Buffy is a terrible leader.

This is actually addressed in the episodes leading up to Chosen, wherein Buffy is temporarily ousted as the leader of her ragtag army of slayerettes after she foolishly leads them into a battle against Mal from Firefly who proceeds to kill a bunch of them and gouge out one of Xander's eyes. Of course, she's welcomed back a few episodes later after her replacement gets a few of them blown up (but not killed and all with both eyes intact, just to be fair) and all is forgiven. All too often, however, is the very important message of this arc forgotten: Buffy is a terrible leader.

But why? She certainly not stupid; the standardized testing that she was actually present to take during high school in fact showed her to be of above-average intelligence in spite of her vocabulary, and Professor Walsh was impressed enough with her work at one point that she asked Buffy to lead a study group. Rather, Buffy is a terrible leader for the simple fact that her approach to any problem she's faced with is to hit it until it stops being a problem. She only utilizes her 'ol brainmeats on the rare occasion that she's up against something more powerful than she is, such as in Helpless when she's robbed of her strength and must defeat a vampire by tricking him into drinking holy water or when being hunted by Germans with assault rifles in Homecoming forced her to make them shoot each other. But why go to the effort of decieving your enemy when you can just put your fist (or a stake) through him instead?

As a real-life superhero, Buffy has absolute power, and it corrupts her absolutely, just not in the way you might expect. Buffy does not consider herself to be above the law, notably demonstrated when Faith accidentally murders the deputy mayor in Bad Girls or when The Trio tricks her into believing that she "accidentally" killed Katrina in Dead Things. Rather, Buffy is corrupted by her inability to respond to everyday problems in the same way that ordinary people do, which is in essence her "isolation" from the world around her. This is made clear when Buffy faces such issues as trying to hold down a job or dealing her mother's death, the latter of which Giles responds to by flat-out stating that Buffy needs a physical manifestation of her problems to fight. And again, the show literally drives this point home in the seventh season by giving her an ultimate villain "with no ass to kick".

Even Buffy's taste in men is a reflection of her isolated nature in several ways, the most obvious of which being that two of her three primary love interests are vampires. Comparing Angel to Spike is a thesis unto itself, but the relevant point to this topic is that Angel is shown to have a much greater capacity to plan his actions out, both as Angel and Angelus, while Spike is far more impulsive and prefers to recklessly throw himself into situations with little to no concern for potential casualties (at least of the non-romantic variety). Although Buffy claims an undying love for Angel throughout the series, she blows him off with one of the worst speeches in television history just before the final curtain falls and lands in the arms of the man who once cracked a joke about killing all her friends just to make her laugh.

(An alternative take on this is to see both Angel and Spike as varying degrees of corruption and her ill-fated relationship with Riley as the metaphorical paragon of good leadership skills and wordly ties. Say what you want about the guy, but he was the only character in the entire series who was ever smart enough to chuck a grenade into a nest of vampires while they were sleeping rather than trying to fight them hand-to-hand.)

So what does all of this mean? Well, it means that being a leader is more than being able to deal with all of your problems by punching them to death - or, to make a better real-world analogy, by throwing money at them. Being a leader takes a genuine connection with the people you're leading along with a full understanding of the problems they face from their perspective. Buffy got a lot of her troops killed and one of them gruesomely maimed in Dirty Girls because she failed to consider that her typical approach to the problem at hand wouldn't work for someone who couldn't pick up a steel beam like it was made of styrofoam, much like how someone who owns a golf resort has no comprehension of what it's like to have to choose between paying rent or eating, and pretty much with the same result. Buffy ultimately suceeded not through her strength alone, but by combining it with that of her friends (again, literally). On the other hand...

This man has no friends.

September 09, 2017 - A Priest, A Salesman, & The President Walk Into A Bar...

Ironically, the salesman is a better leader and a better Christian than the other two are. There's not much I can say about Joel Osteen that the internet hasn't already lambasted him for, save for the fact that he's been shown up by two men from professions not exactly known for their ethics. What I find particularly interesting about all of this, however, is that Mattress Mack is - both from my personal account and from friends who have referred to him on multiple ocassions as a vagina loaf - kind of an asshole. I've since learned (or perhaps been gently reminded) that I have a far greater respect for someone who does what is right despite being a jerk than for someone who is pleasant, yet immoral. And as the country swiftly forgets about the events of Harvey as all eyes turn towards the imminent assraping that Florida is about to recieve from his disgruntled mistresss, I feel that this is an important learning experience to keep in mind moving forward.

It's said that there are no athiests in foxholes. Similarly, there is no race or religion in the face of disaster: just people helping people. The good to be found here - if there is any to be found at all - is that trials like these bring out the absolute best in people. I've spent the last two weeks checking up on friends, family, and even expressing my deepest sympathies for complete strangers, all the while wishing that the world could be more like this even when it wasn't falling apart around me. The public roasting of Joel Osteen is significant here because it shows an entire city coming together to say in one memetastic voice that opulence and greed is the exception in this world, not the norm.

Even Donald Trump, professional douchebag and inexplicable leader of the free world, took one look at the mess here and decided to donate a million dollars to help clean it up. Despite the inevitable speculation as to whether or not the amount of money he earns in the time it takes me to get to work in the morning was actually going to come out of his own pocket (which speaks volumes about public opinion of the guy), it does appear that his unusual bout of generosity is genuine if not difficult to accept. Personally, I'd liken any amount of support coming from him to getting a check from NAMBLA.

On a similar note, I read an article that posed the question of whether or not he will be sending aid to Mexico following a recent earthquake there (that joke I made about summoning Captain Planet is becoming eerily accurate), hilariously basing their prediction entirely around the fact that he had as of yet not tweeted about it. It would certainly be the neighborly thing to do given that Mexico just did the same thing for us last week. At the very least I can assure our friends from south of the border that our president is currently hard at work rounding up our very finest laborers and construction workers to send down your way as soon as possible - you just have to look past the fact that it's not a gesture of kindness.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that a lot of people are assholes, and that's all fine and well. In the end, you only need to look this far to see that most of us are still willing to step up and help our fellow man in their times of need.

And as for the few of us who aren't? Fuck 'em.

August 28, 2017 - *Glub* *Glub *Glub*

There's already a ton of this same thing on every social media outlet out there, so I'm going to keep this brief. I live in a city that is currently taking it up the ass from mother nature with no lube and minimal reacharound - at this point we're basically one South American kid and a monkey away from summoning Captain Planet. Houston is getting pounded harder than my ex-wife in a locker room, which is actually putting it lightly once you realize that this is a highway.

Anyway, there's a been lot of people, both from here and from other cities, out there day and night battling some seriously shitty, not to mention deadly conditions to make sure everyone is all right. And I'm going to speak for everyone here, from the people you've helped to those of us lucky enough to not have to be, that we appreciate everything you're doing and will continue to do. You are the true faces and voices of this country, not an evil Oompa Loompa with a Twitter account.

To everyone else, look out for yourselves and your loved/tolerated ones. Check on the people around you. Be the neighbor that you'd want to have if you were in trouble and really needed it, because one day you just might be.

Stay safe, my friends.

UPDATE: to all of you who are looking to donate to help out, but aren't quite sure where to send your money, local sportsball player and all-around nice guy J.J. Watts has set up a fundraiser page. This is where I would suggest donating to if you'd like to see your moeny go towards ongoing relief in the affected areas instead of just the initial impact.

August 14, 2017 - Livestreamer? I Hardly Knew Her!

First of all, to anyone who's had a hard time finding anything I've linked them to because I keep moving shit around on the site lately, I apologize. I'm done now, I promise. Second of all, anyone out there who ever watches Twitch needs to do themselves a favor right now and install Livestreamer. I cannot understate how much it improves the quality and control over watching streams nor how quick and easy the entire setup process is from start to finish.

Other things that are now up include a partial mirror of the perpetually-downed MyLitleFaceWhen and my own collection of desktop wallpaper complete with full download links on the miscellaneous page. There are 510 wallpapers in total, with about three of them being potentially inappropriate - naturally, these are the ones that my desktop randomizer likes to pull up whenever the Pope comes by for dinner (he's here all the time, fuckin' freeloading pope). There's a lot of variety in my collection of things that I just think look cool, and aside from ponies and redheads with eyepatches don't necessarily reflect any particular interest I might have. I mention this mainly becuase a recent event in which a certain cracked invidiual took the name "Charger" a little too literally makes me fear that some people might take one of them the wrong way.

The truth is that I keep that one around mainly because it amuses me just how much it looks like this one, and I don't think the similarities are at all coincidental. It's a rare bit of social commentary coming from a person who generally loathes it. But just so we're clear, I don't give a fuck which bathroom you piss in and your ethnic background does not make you a bad person - mistreating animals or blasting your stereo at three in the fucking morning does. Also, spammers.

In other news, an article on Brave New World will be appearing in an ebook entitled Somebody Set Us Up The ROM, available as a bonus title in the Summer Smash Game Bundle. For anyone out there who is still running version 1.8.5, please update to 1.8.6 to fix a number of game-crashing bugs (an admitted rarity for us) in 1.8.5. Another update is on its way soon, which should hopefully be done around the same time as the new custom box art from Retro Game Cases.

And just in case you weren't aware, these are totally a thing.

August 05, 2017 - Wait, You Can Download Cars Now?

I'm sure many of you out there have at least heard of RetroPie (not that Retro Pie), but for one reason or another haven't looked much further into it. Emulation is ubiquitous enough amongst even intermediate computer users (whilst beginners are too busy playing Candy Crush and eating paste) that the demand for a dedicated retro gaming system just isn't there. It's really not until you sit down with one that you can truly appreciate how much it streamlines the entire gaming process, not to mention that it allows said process to occur without occupying the machine that you view pornography with.

Thus, for anyone who is interested, I have penned a tutorial for setting up a RetroPie that covers the entire process, from purchase to configuration. I even provide links to my personal collections of boxart and manuals/foldouts to help speed up/eliminate some of the more time-consuming steps. Pretty much the only thing that I don't offer up on a silver platter are the ROMs themselves, mainly because I'd rather not steal traffic from whatever mirror KickAssTorrents is using this week.

While one may be tempted to brand me a Nintendo "fanboy" due to the extensive use of anti-Microsoft hyperbole I employ in the aforementioned guide, it should be noted that A) "fanboy" is just a word that people who like Halo use to describe people who don't like Halo and B) Nintendo is higher up on my shitlist than Microsoft is (albeit only marginally so) thanks to the entire AM2R debacle. For those who don't know what AM2R is, the short version is that Nintendo is butthurt that one guy made the best Metroid game ever while they were busy making crap. Needless to say, rather than doing what any ehtical company might do, they called the lawyers. While DoctorM64 himself calls upon his loyal fanbase not to hate Nintendo for their flagrant douchebaggery, I'm not in a position where I have to say that not to look like a tremendous ass. Such vehement aggressions in the name of copyright protection transform the law from a shield into a sword and are nothing short of an open declaration of war against everything that game modders such as myself stand for.

Consider the age-old rhetoric that dares to assume that the general public wouldn't download a car. Now consider that this advertisement exists in a surreal futuristic world in which cars can be mass-produced on an infinite scale at virtually no cost (or at the very least an insignificant fraction of what they cost today) and the only people who are upset about this technological advancement are big companies who look at it and can't figure out a way to use it to make money. It seems that most companies have yet to recieve the memo that it's not the responsibility of the people to keep them in business while they insist on clinging to an increasingly-outdated revenue model; if your business is threatened because a single man has made a better product than you and is giving it away for free, then he's not the problem - you are.

As for the RetroPie, it's your chance to own a better version of a product that Nintendo deliberatley produced in numbers far short of the actual demand and then just cancelled for no reason, thus proving that they've evolved beyond the need for making money and are now just getting their jollies by pissing us off. Fuck you, Nintendo - I hope you burn in hell.

btb@abusemynipples.biz