Game Review: SteamWorld Dig

SteamWorld Dig is a platform mining adventure game by Image & Form, released in the second half of 2013. It is available on quite a few platforms, including Nintendo 3DS, PC/Mac/Linux (via Steam), Playstation 4, and Nintendo Wii U. It is apparently a Metroid-influenced game, but I haven’t played Metroid. It is also quite like Terraria due to the mining down and collecting precious stones. In SteamWorld Dig there is considerably less emphasis on open-world exploring and extreme numbers of items to collect, and more of an obvious storyline.

I found the game good fun. Unlike the beginning of Terraria, it was obvious what to do, and I was clear on my next goal. Roll into town with population 3, talk with the NPCs, then down the mine and start hacking away. The NPCs have exaggerated personalities, which is to be expected I suppose, and are rather obvious and traditional in their roles. It would have been nice to mix things up a bit. As I dig further down, I found quickly that it pays to go horizontally more than vertically, and any vertical movement needs to be carefully planned. Even with the higher jump and other power-ups collected later on, it can still be very difficult to go back up without a little forethought. Rusty can only dig one space up, and cannot dig while jumping.

I was pleased that the pause screen displayed the current keys to use - this made it easy to quickly check how to change objects to place, rather than accidentally placing an object. The inventory is straightforward and provides all the information required while playing. It is possible to further inspect the inventory and reject items, but I haven’t needed to do that. The movement and hit zones for Rusty are reasonable. I was frustrated occasionally by digging the wrong space, just because I was slightly off centre over the top of rocks. The map is very useful in seeing where I’d been, and what’s coming up. Displaying the number of strikes required to mine the default rocks as separate levels was very helpful. I would have liked a way to see the current goal again - new goals pop up in a red banner once the previous goal is achieved, but I haven’t found a way to see the goal again.

Overall a pleasant game, simpler and more straightforward than Terraria, but with reasonable progression and some small choices to be made between available upgrades. I would recommend this game as a casual game, as a small amount of time invested can give a good return. For more complex or open-ended exploration and building, Terraria is the way to go. SteamWorld Dig is a fun way to pass some time.

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This And That)

Some fun can be had remixing the lyrics for Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by the Eurythmics. First of all, there are two official music videos the original

And the second one

The most well-known remix of the lyrics is for cheese!

Sweet dreams are made of cheese,
who am I to diss a Brie.
I cheddar the world and the feta cheese,
everybody’s looking for Stilton.

Some of them want to fondue you,
Some of them want to be fondued
Some of Edam want Roquefort, too.
Some of them want to have some Blue

Some of them want cheddar fondue,
Some them want to a sweet danish blue

And here’s one that was cobbled together by me and a few friends about teas!

Sweet dreams are made of teas,
brew am chai to steep the leaves
I savour the world for the perfect earl grey
Everybody’s looking for darjeeling

Some of them want to infuse you,
Some of them want to be infused by you
Some of them want to cosy up to you,
Some of them want to be cosied by you

Advance Australia Unfair

Advance Australia Unfair

This post was from September 2011 on Tumblr. Based on a post by willowphoto on Tumblr. Things have not gotten better :(

I hate to do this, but I’m really not proud of Australia these days.

Australians all let us reject,
Those who aren’t young and free;
We’ve gotten spoiled and withheld our toil;
Except to guard our sea;
Elect not to share nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
This sad story’s page, is at the stage
Of loosing Australia Fair.
Our wasteful reigns force us to sing,
Please help Australia Fair.

Beneath our heavy Southern Cross
We’ll withdraw our hearts and hands;
To fake this Commonwealth of ours
Took people from their lands;
For those who dare to cross the seas
We’re not prepared to share;
With cowardice we turn our backs
On those who our seek our care.
In mournful pains for not keeping,
Our poor Australia Fair.

I hope I can look back at this and say we moved on and became better…

And here’s another remix. I’m not sure where this is from. I’ve changed it a little bit.

Australians all let us rejoice
for we are white and straight.
We’ve mined our soil and killed for oil
We’ve turned back refugees.
Our land abounds in trees to log
A reef to dump and dredge.
As Sirs and Dames,
We’ll flout the shame,
Advance Australia Fair!
let profits reign, all serve the rich,
Advance Australia Fair

Assuming Incompetence

The sentiment and points in the article You’re Not Stupid; Ello Is Badly Designed by Elena Palmer on The Toast are things I need to keep in mind.

“[Ello] wasn’t ready for a public beta – there were too many prominent bugs and usability problems. But when I looked at the conclusion on Twitter, there was a theme that wasn’t present in my own high handed criticism: a bunch of highly educated, internet-savvy women were asking each other, “Am I stupid, or is Ello not working?””

“there are many types of intelligence, a significant number of which are not suited to evaluation via tech use. But putting that point aside for the moment, let’s focus on the fact that we measure our intelligence via our ability to pick up tech and use it fluently. But when we fail, women almost invariably blame themselves, at least partially. Men almost invariably blame the technology, if they’re using it, and user error, if a woman is using it.”

I need to be more aware of my own assumptions and areas of skill. Knowledge and skills I do not possess are just as worthy and valuable as those I do. Perspectives that I do not have are often even more valuable than my own, as they highlight mistaken assumptions or areas I have neglected to consider. Most importantly, lived experience always overrides theory. I build software for people and provide research assistance to people.

Optimal copyright term

Copyright for anything should be a maximum of ~40 years (more like 15 years), not life of the author plus 50/70 years as it currently is.

I mostly blame Mickey Mouse/Disney and co.

Copyright duration and the mickey mouse curve

This image is from a blog post by Tom W. Bell at TechLiberation Front.

From a paper by Rufus Pollock (2009): Forever minus a day? Calculating Optimal Copyright Term:

“In this paper we have developed a simple dynamic model for analysing copyright term. In Proposition 1 we derived a single, simple, equation that defined optimal term as a function of key exogenous variables. Using the estimates for these variables derived from the available empirical data we obtained a point estimate for optimal copyright term of approximately 15 years (with a 99% confidence interval extending up to 38 years). To our knowledge this is the first such estimate which is properly grounded, both theoretically and empirically. This result has significant implications for policy. Copyright term is probably the most important aspect of the overall ‘level’ of copyright. The estimate obtained for optimal term (15 years) is far below the length of copyright in almost all jurisdictions. Furthermore, while an exact point estimate is obviously subject to considerable variation due to the uncertainty in the underlying parameters, we confirmed using a variety of robustness checks that current copyrights are almost certainly too long. This implies that there is a significant role for policy makers to improve social welfare by reducing copyright term as well as indicating that existing terms should not be extended.”

The Pirate Party’s copyright policy is also worth reading.