Thursday, February 22, 2007

"If Music be the Food of Love, Play on!" - Expanded

One Life

I saw Johnny Clegg in concert on Wednesday night. I can already hear the collective outcry of “Who the--?”, and thus have included this link here for your edification.

A lot of the material he played was new to my ears, and apparently new to the country: some of his later releases haven't made it here until now. I'm not even sure if his latest CD (which provided the title for this section) is even available locally besides at the concert. It would be a pity if that is so, because Clegg is a must-listen. His musical stylings may not please everyone, but if you were to discount it on such grounds, you would end up missing his powerful messages. Johnny Clegg's first band, Juluka, began touring in South Africa at a time when a mixed-race band could not play at a public venue, and could only advertise by word-of-mouth. Things have come a long way, but he still sings with the same desire to see people free and equal, loved and cherished all. All this is wrapped up in a mixture of Western and African music, and topped off with Clegg's impressive vocal range.

To those readers who know me personally, if you happen to be at my house sometime, remind me and I can put on some of our old records of Johnny Clegg for you.

That's all I can get in for tonight. Stay tuned for more later


This link has been on the blogger dashboard for ages, but only just today did I actually hear the work of 'Dangerous Muse'. I will warn you now, this is FIENDISHLY addictive stuff, so don't listen to it if you're the sort of person who hates having songs suck in your head. You have been warned.

Supreme Commander?

I have been playing a fair amount of my SupCom demo lately, and I have both good and bad things to say about it. The good is that nothing about the game is BAD. The game is pretty much glitch-free in my experience, and it never fails to entertain. The end-game “experimental” units are AMAZING, especially the Monkeylord (more on these when I buy the full game eventually and report on the other factions' super-units).

What I'm not liking at the moment is the economy. It is far too easy to generate energy, but mass is rather hard to come by for a few reasons. One is that on the small map I have played on (the only one in the demo), the upgrade cost to a level 2 mass extractor exceeds the rate at which you are likely to be able to extract mass. It is possible to build mass fabricators, but even the level 3 fab puts out a meagre +24 mass...where the level 3 powerplant produces +2500 energy (all resource gathering and spending is expressed in rates in SupCom). Given that the fabricator puts a -1500 strain on your energy, you can tell it takes a lot of infrastructure in order to generate much mass at all. I have had a mass income rate of less than -500, because all of my production combined amounted to no more than +60. Perhaps I am missing some crucial strategic element of the game, but to me it just feels like the mass production side of the economy just DRAGS along painfully.

Rise of Nations had a fantastic economic management game, because as you expanded, you could do nothing but grow. The early game is rife with frustrating shortfalls, but as your economic juggernaut grows, you are soon outproducing even your most extravagant needs. Rise of Legends dropped that ball, IMO, by including only one harvested resource. Given that your average conquest game is roughly half intense economy-building, and half warfare, you want to make sure the economic half doesn't bore people to death or game abandonment. SupCom manages well with only 2 resources, but only energy production seems to grow as it should. Also, mass can only be harvested from certain 'deposits'. Not from the planet's mantle by way of a borehole, not from the big rocky hills, just from little piles of rock on the ground. It feels artificial, and not in the cool 'chokepoint' way.

It would be easy to fix both flaws at once. Allow mass to be extracted from any place on the map, and focus the game almost entirely on combat. If there must be some kind of chokepointing, there can always be zones which yield 200% mass when harvested. That, or maybe I'll just learn to play the game better and it will all make sense. More on this as I improve.


Xamed said...

I know yesterday I had no clue who they were...

...but then I figured out that my parents were talking about him in the car a few days ago talking about the same concert you went to. Weeeird.

Apparently we actually have some of his records.. somewhere.. around.. here..

Xamed said...

****I meant "he was" not "they were"

My bad. o.O

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