Monday, December 24, 2007

Why People Still Care about Duke Nukem

With Duke Nukem Forever being on hold…almost indefinitely and the new teaser that came out, God knows how many of them they’ve made, people are still excited about Duke Nukem. Why is that? Let me tell you.

Duke Nukem is the traditional badass character. He’s witty…kind of, stealing most of his witticisms from Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness, but that’s wherein a lot of the humor rises. Throughout Duke Nukem 3D, (DN3D), the first FPS installment of the series, Duke will randomly just spit out phrases from Army of Darkness or the creator’s own mind – which were all off-the-wall ridiculous in their humor. Tack that onto him running through the mid-nineties after pig-like space aliens invaded, and it makes it even more amusing.

That’s part one. Part two was the fact that DN3D was modded like crazy. As Tycho points out, you could run onto the internet and download a ton of mods or new levels with the click of the mouse and gain hours upon hours new gameplay. This just added to the replay value of this game which was already high enough as it had more than one level of difficulty, like most of the old-school FPS games. It added to the fun and allowed you an opportunity to, much more readily than most modern games, to modify and change the way you played. The sheer number of modified DN3D levels out there was amazing and added to the game in so many different ways.

Next, which is a very sad reason, is strippers. Throughout the game, and really for gratuity’s sake alone, there were half-naked strippers strewn about the levels. They were also…damageable, you could blow them up with enough ammo being popped into them. Also, as Duke got close to them he threw cash at them. It added to the ridiculousness of this game and also appealed to the lowest common denominator in many male gamers. It was stupid, but altogether comical how the strippers were just added to the game. They almost felt like they were added last minute to make the game not rated as more mature than it really was, hence the almost random layout of some of the strippers (ex. dancing on rooftops, or on space ships).

Then there’s always this – the anticipation. They’ve been working on this game for nearly a decade. It’s changed engines, consoles, etc multiple times since. It’s changed staff. It’s changed…well, everything at least a half dozen times. And because of this – it builds and builds the anticipation for this game, making people more and more interested in what will happen when it’s actually completed. If it’s either awesome or awful, it’ll still make people happy – only the mediocre will turn people away…because they expect either the worst game ever after all this time…or something so ridiculously fantastic that it appeals to every single person who games.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, people like DN3D…because it was stupidly mindless shooting. The plot was weak at best, at worst it was atrocious. Yet, the game was fun because you just ran around and shot at everything that moved. There were no people specifically to save, except for the strippers…which you weren’t penalized for shooting. It was simple running around and killing monsters. That didn’t mean it was a simple game, it’s merely to point out that there didn’t need to be much to it. It was fun, plain and simple. Whether it appeals to everyone or not – it’s just a fun game where you run around and kill monsters with no need to worry about consequences, plot, or anything else for that matter.

DN3D was not the best game in the world, by far, but it was liked and really, that’s all that mattered. Other thoughts on the Duke Nukem phenomenon are more than welcomed…they’re encouraged.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Modern Hymn Post

I began thinking about the early Methodists and their attempts to use music to help convert people to Christianity. It was a smart maneuver, especially considering they used tunes people already knew and added a Christian message into the lyrics so others could sing along. It produced some amazing results, not the least of which is my favorite Christmas hymn, Hark! the Herald Angels Sing, which I spoke about at length last year. The second verse really sums up the entire Christian spirit in its lyrics and makes me proud to be one.

I got to thinking, this morning, what if modern Christians did something akin to this. What if they took modern tunes and changed the lyrics to have Christian overtones. So, to ruin everyone's favorite tunes...I started doing that. Here are some examples --
To the tune of "Baby One More Time..."
Oh I must confess
That my sinfulness
Is killing me now
But you know I will believe
That with my Lord here
He gave us His life
To take away all of man's strife

My Jesus Christ is saving me
His sacrifice has set us free
Through Him salvation is guaranteed
He gave us His life
To take away all of man's strife
To the tune of "Girlfriend"
Hey, hey, you, you
I really like your Savior
Yea man, I feel
That I need to convert
Hey, hey, you, you
I want to be a Christian

I can't pretend
Because I know
Salvation is precious
And yeah
He's the ever loving Prince of Peace
I can tell you He loves us
Again and again
(And again, and again)

Old gods, cast them whereever
Through Christ I can do much better
I need His everlasting love
And that is what I'm praying for
I know, they're ridiculous -- but maybe that's the thing. Our music stylings have changed so much that much of our popular modern music is not quite as timeless as it was in the past. Much of it sounds dated and won't transcend into the next few decades very well. Yet, when I hear Hark! The Herald Angels Sing every Christmas, I am still moved and still love the music. I wonder if that will happen some hundred years from now -- where our music is still loved and cherished. If not, we need to begin truly working on more timelessness in our tunes because without that bit of timelessness, our music will disappear and that incredibly important piece of us will just slip away...

Sunday, December 16, 2007


If you haven't seen Joss Whedon's short-lived series Firefly, I suggest you talk to me or rent As I've mentioned before, I like most everything from Joss Whedon. But, Firefly is perhaps the best of his works and quite possible the greatest television series of all time.

The series is set in the future -- a future where a civil war had broken out between those planets which wanted to form an alliance of sorts and force everyone to join their alliance -- and those which wanted independence from this alliance. Effectively, the galaxy that they live in is similar in atmosphere to the old west -- a great many people are wandering from town to town looking for work however they can get it. Instead of traveling by horse, buggy, or on foot -- people are traveling in space crafts. Technology, instead of being ridiculously futuristic it's gotten to aircrafts that can travel from planet to planet, there's no laser weapons, no crazy aliens, no sound in space, and no "warp speed" or anything of the sort. Instead of going to that extreme that most science fiction does...which makes it more realistic and gritty.

The main characters vary from a goofy pilot, to a former "independent" Colonel, to a Doctor running from the law with his sister, to a Companion (i.e. prostitute) who's considered to be the most honest working one amongst them. Great depth to each and every one of them -- more dimensions that most characters on shows that have been running for years.

The bottom line on Firefly? It's a space western along the lines of Cowboy Bebop -- except without the animation, life on Mars, and ridiculousness. It can appeal to everyone. I should know -- my wife who hates science fiction, for the most part, can sit down and watch the series with me...and enjoys that along with the movie, Serenity. It's fun, cleverly written, and just a masterpiece of television. And yet, like too many shows these days, wasn't even given a chance. With a poor time slot and the episodes shown ridiculously out of order, Firefly never had a shot. The one season of the show is worth every single cent to purchase and again, if you haven't seen it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Alex Trebek Heart Attack

Keep Alex Trebek in your thoughts -- not merely because he's a great television game show host, but because the man recently had a heart attack. Let's hope he gets better quickly and back on the television. You'll be in our thoughts, Mr. Trebek.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Quote of the Day

Here's a lovely quote from the ever modest, Quentin Tarantino --
“I watch my movies all the time. It’s the only stuff out there worth watching…And the music in my movies is always the best, too. I’ve always just felt that the combining of the right piece of music with the right scene, the right sequence, that creates movie moments that you remember for the rest of your life and you even appropriate the song. If you do it really right, then you can never hear that song again without thinking about that scene in the movie. “
-Quentin Tarantino

Monday, December 3, 2007

Puzzle Quest

Welcome young lads and lasses to a world unlike our own. Where the dead walk the earth and attempt to attack our kingdom! You are of noble blood and must help defend the kingdom from these undead attacks and help to find out the source of these attacks. Welcome to the world of Puzzle Quest.

Puzzle Quest's story is ridiculously simple -- but its not the story that's the most fun, it's the fact that it's a puzzle game with some RPG elements that make it incredibly fun. In many ways, this is a modified version of Bejeweled. Instead of merely playing by yourself -- on the same board, you are taking turns against an opponent. The Wikipedia article explains the gameplay a little better -- but imagine competitive Bejeweled with you gaining power as you continue to play the game allowing for interesting "attacks" which can change up the course of gameplay. It's a lot of fun and worth checking out...especially for the Nintendo DS, where the controls shine. Using the stylus to click and point to where you want to move the blocks is beyond natural. This is a wonderful game and I'd suggest it to puzzle and RPG well as fans of good video games.


Joss Whedon is teaming up with Eliza Dushku to create the new television show...Dollhouse. It's a new sci-fi show that sounds a bit like Dark Angel, but...seeing how Joss Whedon is writing it, it'll probably be better. Dushku will be producing the program along with Whedon.

After the writers strike, I hope to see what comes of this show.