Getting Down to Business - Monday is the first official day of our new TPM Investigations Desk. So our editors don’t kill me, I want to be clear that no one should expect a flood o...
1 day ago
Games depend on players making meaningful choices and seeing the consequences of those choices radiate throughout the game. But herein lies a problem for our game. By definition, history has already happened. So how can we allow players to influence the historical aspects of the game while still being true to it?
One answer we’ve come up with lies in the “facet” dialogue system in Lewis levels. ... Each of these facets is tied to one of the common roles Lewis had to play, but each carries a philosophy with it as well. Sometimes a facet you choose will chart a course of action, but sometimes it will help to create the kind of Meriwether Lewis you want to play. In other words, you’ll customize your version of Lewis to fit the way you want to attack problems in the game.
Each time you choose a facet, two things happen. First, the consequences of that choice immediately begin to play out. If you decide not to have Private Willard executed for falling asleep at his post (a real choice the historical Lewis faced, and a real choice in the game), expect some of the Corps to appreciate your mercy, but others to begin questioning your resolve as a leader. For you lovers of speculative fiction, this is where the game wanders into the realm of Alternate History and we get to explore all those “What If?” possibilities with which the Lewis and Clark Expedition tantalizes us. Second, Lewis gets better at using the facet you selected. The more you use a given facet, the more adept you’ll become with it. This is important because some dialogue options will only be available if you have a high enough skill in the necessary facet.
There’s a fifth facet to Lewis’s personality, one that I think really helps to make our character development unique among video games: “Melancholy.” You don’t gain skill in Melancholy as you do the other facets; in fact, you’ll probably want to use this facet as little as possible. But you will have to choose it sometimes. The Melancholy facet is meant to reflect the black moods, self-critical analyses, and temper that were all a part of Lewis’s character. Think of it as a thermometer that rises every time you engage in dialogue and don’t select it. Once Melancholy reaches its “boiling point,” you have to choose it in lieu of any other (more helpful) dialogue option. The trick for players will be figuring out how to diffuse Lewis’s Melancholy before it forces them to say something they wish they hadn’t to the wrong person.
What excites me so much about the Melancholy facet is that it uses gameplay to shed light on Lewis’s personality. In most RPGs, dialogue is used primarily either for info. dumps or quest assignments. When dialogue has a genuine gameplay aspect of its own, usually what players try to do is “say the right thing” to maximize their abilities or inventory in the game--"Oh, thank you for complimenting my outfit; now you may have the Sword of Pwnage +39!"--rather than thinking about “What would this character say in this situation”? In other words, one of the most essential aspects of the tabletop roleplay experience, acting in-character, is all but absent from the CRPG genre. Our facet system will not only encourage you to to develop a character that fits with your favorite way of tackling problems in a game, but, through the Melancholy facet, confront you with Lewis’s foibles and failings as a person. Taken together, we hope to present a nuanced portrait of a great American hero who also happened to be a flawed human being.
|Note that this character is looking northwest, and he doesn't have eyes in the back of his head. :) (That's why half the screen is grayed out.)|
If it took God six days to build the world, then indie developer Sami Maaranen is taking it a little slower. More than 20 years slower, to be exact. That's how long Maaranen has been working on UnReal World.
In 1992, the Finnish developer, then just 17 years old, released version 1.00 of the tough survival roguelike that's developed a cult following over the years. The game is a wilderness survival sim/ roguelike based in Finland during the late Iron Age with a deep focus on player freedom. It pits the player as a lone individual against the rugged wilderness and dangers of nature.
|Bob Kerrey receiving the Medal of Honor|
Bob Kerrey’s political career spanned four years as the governor of Nebraska and another 12 as a United States senator from that state, during which he made a serious bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. In all that time, to the best of his memory, he never uttered what has become a routine postscript to political remarks: “God bless America.” ...
“I think you have to be very, very careful about keeping religion and politics separate,” Kerrey said.
We Americans aren’t careful at all. In a country that supposedly draws a line between church and state, we allow the former to intrude flagrantly on the latter. Religious faith shapes policy debates. It fuels claims of American exceptionalism.
And it suffuses arenas in which its place should be carefully measured. A recent example of this prompted my conversation with Kerrey. Last week, a fourth-year cadet at West Point packed his bags and left, less than six months shy of graduation, in protest of what he portrayed as a bullying, discriminatory religiousness at the military academy, which receives public funding.
Kerrey labels himself agnostic, but said that an active politician could get away with that only if he or she didn’t “engage in a conversation about the danger of religion” or advertise any spiritual qualms and questions.
“If you talk openly about your doubts,” he said, “you can get in trouble.”
To me that doesn’t sound like religious freedom at all.
Every year around this time, many conservatives rail against the “war on Christmas,” using a few dismantled nativities to suggest that America muffles worship.
Hardly. We have God on our dollars, God in our pledge of allegiance, God in our Congress. Last year, the House took the time to vote, 396 to 9, in favor of a resolution affirming “In God We Trust” as our national motto. How utterly needless, unless I missed some insurrectionist initiative to have that motto changed to “Buck Up, Beelzebub” or “Surrender Dorothy.”
We have God in our public schools, a few of which cling to creationism, and we have major presidential candidates — Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum — who use God in general and Christianity in particular as cornerstones of their campaigns. God’s initial absence from the Democratic Party platform last summer stirred more outrage among Americans than the slaughter in Syria will ever provoke.
God’s wishes are cited in efforts to deny abortions to raped women and civil marriages to same-sex couples. In our country God doesn’t merely have a place at the table. He or She is the host of the prayer-heavy dinner party.
The day after Labor Day, just as campaign season was entering its final frenzy, FreedomWorks, the Washington-based tea party organization, went into free fall.
Richard K. Armey, the group’s chairman and a former House majority leader, walked into the group’s Capitol Hill offices with his wife, Susan, and an aide holstering a handgun at his waist. The aim was to seize control of the group and expel Armey’s enemies: The gun-wielding assistant escorted FreedomWorks’ top two employees off the premises, while Armey suspended several others who broke down in sobs at the news.
The coup lasted all of six days. By Sept. 10, Armey was gone — with a promise of $8 million — and the five ousted employees were back. The force behind their return was Richard J. Stephenson, a reclusive Illinois millionaire who has exerted increasing control over one of Washington’s most influential conservative grass-roots organizations.
The episode illustrates the growing role of wealthy donors in swaying the direction of FreedomWorks and other political groups, which increasingly rely on unlimited contributions from corporations and financiers for their financial livelihood. Such gifts are often sent through corporate shells or nonprofit groups that do not have to disclose their donors, making it impossible for the public to know who is funding them. ...
FreedomWorks has been on a remarkable run in recent election cycles, growing its annual budget from $7 million to $40 million in just a few years and helping lead the tea party movement against Obama’s agenda. The group was among several that rose up last week in opposition to a failed proposal from House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to raise federal taxes on millionaires.
The partnership came to a crashing end when Armey marched into FreedomWorks’s office Sept. 4 with his wife, Susan, executive assistant Jean Campbell and the unidentified man with the gun at his waist — who promptly escorted Kibbe and Brandon out of the building.
“This was two weeks after there had been a shooting at the Family Research Council,” said one junior staff member who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. “So when a man with a gun who didn’t identify himself to me or other people on staff, and a woman I’d never seen before said there was an announcement, my first gut was, ‘Is FreedomWorks in danger?’ It was bizarre.’ ”
The Second Amendment dealt with concerns about “security” and the need for trained militias to ensure what the Constitution called “domestic Tranquility.” There was also hesitancy among many Framers about the costs and risks from a large standing army, thus making militias composed of citizens an attractive alternative.
So, the Second Amendment read: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Contrary to some current right-wing fantasies about the Framers wanting to encourage popular uprisings over grievances, the language of the amendment is clearly aimed at maintaining order within the country.
That point was driven home by the actions of the Second Congress amid another uprising which erupted in 1791 in western Pennsylvania. This anti-tax revolt, known as the Whiskey Rebellion, prompted Congress in 1792 to expand on the idea of “a well-regulated militia” by passing the Militia Acts which required all military-age white males to obtain their own muskets and equipment for service in militias.
In 1794, President Washington, who was determined to demonstrate the young government’s resolve, led a combined force of state militias against the Whiskey rebels. Their revolt soon collapsed and order was restored, demonstrating how the Second Amendment helped serve the government in maintaining “security,” as the Amendment says.
Beyond this clear historical record – that the Framers’ intent was to create security for the new Republic, not promote armed rebellions – there is also the simple logic that the Framers represented the young nation’s aristocracy. Many, like Washington, owned vast tracts of land. They recognized that a strong central government and domestic tranquility were in their economic interests.
So, it would be counterintuitive – as well as anti-historical – to believe that Madison and Washington wanted to arm the population so the discontented could resist the constitutionally elected government. In reality, the Framers wanted to arm the people – at least the white males – so uprisings, whether economic clashes like Shays’ Rebellion, anti-tax protests like the Whiskey Rebellion, attacks by Native Americans or slave revolts, could be repulsed.
However, the Right has invested heavily during the last several decades in fabricating a different national narrative, one that ignores both logic and the historical record. In this right-wing fantasy, the Framers wanted everyone to have a gun so they could violently resist their own government.
Now we were getting to the heart of the matter; anecdote trumps evidence. I tried to be polite and diplomatic: "It seems like you don't really want the cases investigated, and certainly not solved. See, that's what I do: I investigate mysteries to solve them. If I'm going to spend time and effort on a case, maybe days or weeks or months, I'm going to do my best to understand and explain the mystery. It's kind of the opposite of what you want, so I don't really think I can help you. If you just want to get people who saw UFOs or ghosts or Bigfoot on camera telling their stories, you don't need me for that."
She seemed slightly taken aback: "But you're a respected paranormal investigator, you came recommended, and have credentials... I thought you'd be a good fit?" ...
I finally realized that what they really were looking for was an incompetent "investigator," someone who would appear on their show and pretend to use science in investigations-someone who would superficially appear smart and entertaining but who in the end would be baffled and stumped by the mysteries they faced.
I was perfectly willing to admit if I was stumped or couldn't fully explain a case, but I was not willing to pretend to be stupid or incompetent: "I see... If I can't solve a case, or if there are real unanswered questions about it, I don't mind admitting that I don't have all the answers. But I'll give it my best shot-I'm not going to pretend I don't have a clue if I have a pretty good idea of the explanation."
Producer: "Okay, I understand," she said, though I don't really think she did. "Well, do you know anyone who might be interested?"
Each time a world-wise Fox News commentator courageously points out that our nation has devolved into a refuge for Christian-hating secularites and hyper-sensitive minorities, they are assaulted by a liberal-PC axis of hatred making fantastical claims that Christmas is still the dominant cultural event in our nation. Such nonsense can be disproven simply by comparing the two photos below, both of the same downtown area in a small Indiana village. The first picture shows the town as it appeared in 1953:
Now take a look at the same commercial strip in 2011:
No, you are not seeing things: that is a menorah planted directly in the middle of a Christmas display window in the lower-left-hand portion of this photo. An absolute outrage. A person walking down that street could not be blamed for being tossed into a spiral of confusion, in which they would not be certain exactly what time of year it was, or if they were in America at all.
With that, and with a volume of evidence that is as overwhelming as it is depressing, I surrender and, with great bitterness and sadness, bid farewell to the once grand tradition of Christmas, another casualty in the ceaseless and ruthless liberal drive to destroy everything worth having in our great nation. I hope only that a future America, not so wholly constrained by an out-of-control nanny culture, can somehow resuscitate what once was a pure and wonderful tradition.
Farewell, Christmas. You will be missed.
When the Supreme Court was asked to repeal Obamacare, they said no. But they probably didn't really mean it, right?
A Republican lawmaker in South Carolina has introduced legislation that would send state and federal officials to jail for implementing the Affordable Care Act. …the proposal, which has been has been prepared by state Rep. Bill Chumley (R) for next year’s legislative session, threatens state officials with up to two years in jail and a $1,000 fine for enforcing the law.
"I think we’re within our rights to do this," Chumley said.
Of course you are, South Carolina. Just because the South lost the Civil War doesn't mean that federal law trumps state law. Wait, now you too, Wisconsin?!
Last month, a group of Wisconsin lawmakers also said they would support nullifying the law and arresting federal officials for trying to enact it. One of them, state Rep. Chris Kapenga (R) openly paid little mind to the court’s decision.
"Just because Obama was re-elected does not mean he’s above the constitution," Kapenga said.
Hmmmm…sounds compelling and innovative. Obama is way more slaveholdery than actual slaveholders. Let’s see how this argument fleshes out, shall we? This being American Thinker, it is sure to be incredibly well-reasoned and coherent. There is no doubt that by the end of this article, we will totally understand how Obama is all slave-y and how owning actual people does NOT make you slave-y...
...We’re still not getting to the part where Obummer enslaves us all with healthcare or debt or something. Let’s keep going. (Readers, we’re doing you a solid here and skipping over the approximately one million paragraphs that wouldn’t be out of place in a sophomore philosophy class. Sample sentence: “Slavery is self-refuting, as it contradicts the foundation of property rights, namely that a human being owns himself.” Thank us later.) After the “reading Locke while high and then writing about it” portion of the article passes, we get to the super-duper well-reasoned conclusion:
Jefferson was a man who opposed slavery at its root — its incompatibility with the basis of private property, namely individual sovereignty — but who found himself unable to undo the societal wrong in his lifetime, or even to extricate his own life from its taint. His ideas and his words paved the way for many great developments, not least of which was the end of slavery in America. His principled hope was achieved, albeit belatedly.
Obama, on the contrary, is a man who embraces the core principle of slavery — the denial of individual sovereignty, i.e., self-ownership. His main difference on this score from the slave owners of the past is that, rather than pursuing the contradiction of defending private property while simultaneously defiling it, Obama merely wishes to undo property itself, thus rendering enslavement a universal principle of government.
Jefferson actually owned people, but later on some people read some Jefferson and thought that owning people might not be cool, so, ipso facto ergo, Jefferson freed all the slaves, including his own retroactively like magic. The Kenyan socialist pretender will take your monies and give them to other people via a scary thing called “taxes” so, also, too, Obama wants to own all the people in America. THAT IS AN AIRTIGHT SYLLOGISM GODDAMMIT. To sum up: war is peace, ignorance is strength (which makes those motherfuckers at American Thinker incredibly strong) and freedom is slavery. The end.
Tomorrow the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold hearings on Benghazi. Coincidentally, earlier this week it was reported that Hillary Clinton suffered a concussion after fainting due to dehydration from a stomach virus, and won't be available to testify before the committee. You have one guess as to where this is going.
The Daily Caller's Jim Treacher asked for the concussion certificate:
If she has a concussion, let's see the medical report. Let's see some proof that she's not just stonewalling. If it's true, then we can all wish her a speedy recovery. But it's ridiculous to expect us to take her word for it.
And then concussion-gate became a thing, at least among people who suffer one each time they fall on their asses...
The State Department has announced that Secretary Clinton will be available to testify come January. That's a likely story from someone who orchestrated the murder of Vince Foster/faked a head injury/shot JFK.
You might think that President Obama’s comfortable reelection last month would put an end to the Republican birther conspiracy. But if you do, you don’t know Arizona Republicans.
The latest battle for the movement that believes Barack Obama is ineligible to be President was fought Monday at the state’s Electoral College vote, where a trio of Republican electors — including state GOP chair Tom Morrissey — once again raised concerns that Obama’s birth certificate is a fake during the electoral college vote. ...
Morrissey, the leader of the Republican Party in Arizona and a former Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal for the state, tried to present his concerns over Obama’s eligibility as something other than birtherism.
“My issue isn’t whether he was born here,” he told KFYI radio in Phoenix Monday. “I have questions [about Obama’s longform birth certificate]. … You know, I have a law enforcement background. I come at this with a little different perspective. It just doesn’t ring right with me.” ...
Another of the electors who raised concerns, Gila County GOP chair Don Ascoli, told TPM on Monday he’s used to being on the losing end of the birth certificate fight. But even if he’s going down, he said, he’s going down swinging no matter what the cost to his party or his state’s reputation. ...
In continuing to push the conspiracy that Obama has hid his real birth certificate all the way to the electoral college vote for his second term — which the president won by a comfortable margin — Ascoli, and the other electors that shared in the concerns over Obama’s birth certificate were keeping alive an Arizona tradition. The state has been a hotbed of birtherism since the start of the movement and still boasts the movement’s most prominent elected official defender: Sheriff Joe Arpiao.