Saturday, May 27, 2017

Anatomy of a 'New York Times' Article

The 'New York Times' has seen record (digital) subscriptions, but is it coming at the cost of impartialquality journalism?

Don't get me wrong, the Times has always had some awful features and other outlets aren't much better; but for the supposed "Newspaper of Record", there is a surprising amount of shoddy reporting and lazily constructed articles.

How so? Let's break down a typical Times article:

Part 1: Include "Trump" in the title

Part 2: Start with a vague lead that reiterates the title

Part 3: Include healthy dose of social media (Twitter) posts

Part 3a: Make sure they're from partisan sources

Part 4: A couple sentences of actual content

Part 5: Finish with a joke only staff will laugh at

Part 6: Rinse and repeat

Part 7: Profit

New York Times Co. Reports Rising Digital Profit as Print Advertising Falls

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Computer Generation: Games of the 90s (Part 2)

Part 2 of my list on computer games of the 90s that stand out to me.

Shorter than Part 1, but there are some good ones:

Civilization II (1996)

I never played the original Civilization, but spent countless hours on Civ2.
I'm pretty sure Sid Meier is some sort of time-bender, because time just disappears whenever I play Civilization. The first major turn-based game I played, something about the gameplay makes 5 hours seem like 5 minutes.

Diablo (1996)

The ultimate hack-and-slash video game, it was so simple, yet so addictive. There's really nothing better than running into a room full of monsters and killing everything inside.

Starcraft (1998)

Blizzard could do no wrong in the 90s and got its biggest hit yet with Starcraft.
The first of its games to use extensively, it took some getting used to; everyone hated it and its servers were constantly down. However, it was also one of the first PC games to get a lot of attention as an e-sport, particularly in South Korea.

Profession leagues still exist, 20 years after its release

Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun (1999)

I didn't play the original series too much, but really got into C&C with Tiberian Sun (later backing in to Red Alert).
I was definitely led into the franchise because of Warcraft and Starcraft, but C&C has its own unique aspects and worth mentioning on its own.

Diablo II (2000)

Blizzard hit the magic formula with the original, then somehow improved it in Diablo II.
Arguably the game with the best balance of hack-and-slash clicking, drop-rates, variety and customization of characters, and multi-player ability, it is one of my all-time favorite games.
It ultimately led to the creation of World of Warcraft and the  (unfortunately?) more profitable model of monthly subscriptions and never-ending expansion sets.

That's all I got for now. I'm sure I missed many others.

What were your favorite games of the 90s?
Did you prefer PC or console?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Computer Generation: Games of the 90s (Part 1)

Last post I reminisced about my first experience with the Internet and how interesting it is to have grown up, not just with the internet, but with the rapid evolution of computers (specifically, PCs) and home computing.

As a kid in grade school, games were my primary form of interaction with PCs (aside from MacPaint or that fun text-to-voice feature on classroom Macintosh computers).

That would quickly evolve as school work would incorporate writing more papers or doing research, but here are a few favorite games that stick out in my mind from the early 90s:

Gertrude's Secrets (1984)

This was one of the first computer games I remember playing and one of my first interactions with MS-DOS. I remember having to type out the exact command to launch it and the frustration of having to do it again if it was wrong.
It was a simple problem solving game, but there was an element to it where you collected digital trophies for each of the tasks completed - and I wanted them all. (In hindsight, this should have been a clear indicator of the power of gamification).

The Oregon Trail (1990)

Obviously a pivotal game that was, for some reason, allowed (and promoted!) in classrooms across the country. I think we were supposed to be learning something about Westward Expansion, but all I knew is that whoever was good at hunting was a rockstar in class.
And for the younger Gen-Xers or older Millennials who would rather not be associated with either, Anna Garvey has cleverly given us an out with her Oregon Trail Generation theory.

I don't care that I can only carry 100 lbs of meat. Shoot all the animals.

Treasure Mountain (1990)

I think I played this game more than any other in the early 90s.
The purpose was to solve problems and find treasure as you make your way up the Mountain. It also featured a collection aspect that made repetitive playing enjoyable.

These elves stole your coins and were general jerks.

The Oregon Trail Deluxe (1992)

Exact same game, updated graphics!
Still acceptable to play in class.

Now with FPS hunting!

SimCity 2000 (1993)

I love this game.
First world-building game I played and what's better than playing God?


Warcraft: Orcs & Humans (1994)

I never played 'Orcs & Humans' that much, but this was the first I experienced multiplayer over LAN with.
Only one of my good friends had a home network and his dad hated setting it up for us. (I think we also kicked him off his own computer to play).

MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat (1995)

Another I didn't play that much, but my best friend loved it and really introduced customizable characters. I could spend hours on each mech, playing with different armor vs. weapon combinations to get the perfect balance of strength and speed.

Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (1995) & Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal (1996)

As opposed to the first Warcraft, I played a lot of II.
Warcraft II was the first game I had with multiplayer over modem and would spend hours tying up the phone line with it.

That takes care of the first half-decade. I'll continue in another post!

Thoughts or memories of any of these games?

I know it's not a comprehensive list, but did I miss any of your favorites?
Let me know!