Friday, November 09, 2012

Boardgame Cafe: Crude Oil

So tonight we ended up back at Boardgame Cafe as we were free tonight and there were new games from Essen to try out.

First up tonight: Crude Oil, with sinbadwolf, Khim, angxj and yours truly.

It's a dice-throwing game where players take turns throwing dices to activate assets they've built on their quadrant of the board (we kept thinking of Battleship).

You throw the dices, activate buildings that land on the coordinate lines (harvesting crude oil, refining crude oil to gasoline and selling said gasoline if possible), and buying/selling assets as the player sees fit according to the market forces.

The game starts with everyone having $200mil, and gameplay progresses until a player gets $750mil, then there's a final turn for all players (except the player that triggered the endgame step).

Pretty much looks like a quick game of throw-dice, get oil, buy-sell, and hopefully don't get screwed by the market.

Jack208 said the game would take around an hour or so to complete. Our game went from...late 9.30pm all the way till 1am. We're thinking this was due to dice rolls and inventory hoarding. The game began with everyone going roughly for the same strategy (a refinery to convert crude oil to gasoline, a couple of gas stations to sell gasoline to customers, and as many oil drills to dig for oil), with angxj going for more oil drills concentrated in a certain area of his quardrant.

Somewhere in our first round itself we were hit by taxes when angxj and us rolled double 1s, bleeding our funds dry when we had to pay tax for every barrel of crude oil and gasoline we owned - angxj was first to have to decide which of his assets he had to sell to pay off taxes. It didn't help when the economic state went on the rise, pushing prices of refineries/drills/stations up.

Soon everyone got a feel for the flow of the game, and worked towards his own strategy: angxj kept up with trying to build oil wells to generate crude oil, Khim aimed more on selling gasoline via gas stations, sinbadwolf had a balanced game, and we decided on buying crude oil from the domestic/foreign market, concentrating on refineries to convert them and stations to sell them to customers while keeping a minimal number of buildings.

In our game run, the economic state of the game kept switching from recessions, depressions, downturns and recoveries, keeping the customer market for selling gasoline low (although buying buildings were also cheap). We've only ever hit a economic state of prosperity twice, so trying to make money from selling gasoline wasn't lucrative enough. Even selling to the domestic/foreign market fared only slightly better.

angxj and sinbadwolf hoarded crude oil produced by their oil wells, and when it came to a point where we were all locked out from buying crude oil from the foreign market, the rest of us suffered as prices for crude oil went on the rise, from less than 10mil to 10-15mil per barrel. It didn't help Khim and us that angxj and sinbadwolf only sold a few barrels back to the market, and customer demand for gasoline remained low.

In the end Khim had to rid himself of his oil well to finance his other assets, angxj utilised his entire territory with an orderly arrangement of oil drills and wells, stations and refineries, sinbadwolf and us were trying to get more wells. Then came a point where angxj, having stocked up enough barrels of crude oil and gas, decided to sell everything to trigger the end game.

End score:
sinbadwolf: 820
Khim: 741
angxj: 1169
us: 714

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mobile Gaming

1. Why don't you Draw Something?
2. A classic Prince of Persia.
3. Jeng jeng Jenga.
4. Come on, join the Jetpack Joyride.

So over the years, as our desktop of now nearly 10 years declined into obsolescence (actually it was already in that state some 5 years ago) we've replaced it with our Nintendo DS and our iPod Touch for all our gaming needs.

True, there are some games that just can't be replaced by mobile gaming, but then again there were the occasional cybercafe jaunts too. The ageing desktop was relegated to other matters like syncing our iDevices with iTunes, converting our CDs to sync onto our iDevices, blogging, storing our photos, converting movies to sync with our iDevices (which usually is an overnight job for JUST ONE MOVIE)...and perhaps for some gaming. That is, games from the pre-2000 era.

Otherwise, until 2009, our most-used gadget (and best investment) was our Nintendo 3D because we've been gaming on it like crazy. The Mario games, the Zelda games, the Castlevanias, Nintendogs...

Even when we got our iPhone 3GS in Dec 2008, our iDevices wasn't heavily used for gaming as the App Store was still relatively new and we were still careful about buying apps (much has changed then).

Gosh. Come to think of it. When the App Store was still new we could afford to check it weekly and probably go through most of the new apps for something free/worthy. Now there's just too many to bother.

Now our iDevices take up more than half the time while we wait for more 3DS games to appear (and seeing how we can't buy anything from the Nintendo eShop unless it's free).

So let's talk about gaming on the iDevice. Specifically on the iPhone for now.

Just recently everyone's caught the Draw Something bug. And we think it's been done rather well, although we're rather wary of playing this via mobile 3G. You add a friend, choose a word depending on the difficulty, you draw it out in whatever colours are available to you, and send!

The immediate problems? Battery life playing on the 3GS, for one. If you're playing with a lot of people, you may find that as soon as you've played a round starting from person A to person Z, it's time to play with person A again.

And while the game is available as both a free and paid app, we don't think it's worth paying because somehow we have this feeling that by a week's time this game will lose momentum and in under a month quite a lot of people will stop playing.

Just a feeling.

Meanwhile, we're trying to hold out from buying Prince Of Persia Classic that has reappeared on the App Store. Funny. They actually launched the app on the App Store December last year as an universal app at 99¢, which we automatically bought.

Or, would have bought. We couldn't, as a pop-up notified us that the game needed a front-facing camera. It could have probably meant that it was for the iPhone 4 onwards (although we don't see why so), but it was a bummer that we didn't manage to download it then. Then not long after that, it got pulled off from the App Store.

And now it's back, at USD1.99. While the iPad version is at USD2.99. Whatever happened to it being an universal app?!

It's still Prince Of Persia 1, all dressed up in nice fancy graphics (and from what we've seen on YouTube) minus the violence of being sliced in half or impaled on spikes.

We still remember one of our most shocking moments playing Prince Of Persia 2: The Shadow And The Flame was when the Prince was running down a corridor when suddenly out of nowhere he violently split in half with blood splattering everywhere - our introduction to the wall blade trap.

So...not buying Prince Of Persia Classic yet.

Jenga was free recently and we've downloaded it and gave it a quick try. The first impression? I still rather my actual physical Jenga set with friends, and all the crazy rules and setups we come up with. It's worth the trouble of setting up the pieces to play, really!

And prior to Draw Something most of our casual gaming was on Jetpack Joyride. A free endless running game that's gotten the mix of power-ups and objectives just right. Unlike other endless runners, with Jetpack Joyride we're more focused on completing objectives rather than "getting the furthest distance".

We'll probably only stop playing this once we've bought out all the costumes and jetpacks - but there's an update for this game coming and who knows what new content will be available then!

Still, too many games, too little time, and the urge to get more games!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Memories Rewatched

1. Disney's Beauty And The Beast 3D
2. Nobita's New Great Adventure Into The Underworld

So recently we've relived some old memories. Just the other day The Chief bought tickets for Beauty And The Beast 3D, which got us all excited as we weren't aware that it was screening then.

We never did get to watch The Lion King 3D that screened earlier somehow. We were aware that it was going to be out in the cinemas, but somehow we totally missed it. But for Disney's Beauty And The Beast 3D? No way.

You know, the first version of Beauty And The Beast that we ever knew of portrayed Beauty as having 2 other selfish sisters, a merchant father who got lost and found his way to a castle, stays the night and as he was leaving the following day plucks a rose from the garden for Belle only to be confronted by the Beast...

...Wikipedia has the story. Yeah, it's the same one right down to the bit where her sisters rub their eyes with onions to fake crying. There's no Gaston, no animated household furniture, no songs.

Disney changed that all right. We actually recall that we bought the cassette tape of the soundtrack even before we got to watch the movie. Knew the songs by heart. Then we borrowed the VHS tape from Randall and was wowed.

We think we had more impact from the soundtrack compared to the movie. Even after Beauty And The Beast, it was the soundtrack cassette tapes that we bought instead of the VHS tape of the movie for Aladdin and The Lion King. By the time Pocahontas came along we've made the slow switch to CDs (they weren't considered cheap then at nearly RM50 a disc!).

Gosh. The soundtrack. We'd that tape plugged into our Walkman playing so much we're surprised the tape lasted all the torture we've put it through. Fast forward. Rewind. Fast forward. Switch to side B, more fast forwarding and rewinding. We found out that the soundtrack was a stereo recording when our earphones weren't plugged in properly and we were surprised when half the townsfolk in "Belle" couldn't be heard at all, we thought there was something wrong with our tape!

Even though we've watched it again on DVD (last recollection was in Glasgow, the extended version with "Human Again" included), we always remember the scenes as though we were watching the blurry VHS version. Until we watched the 3D version.

Oh wow.

The feeling was the same as when we first made the switch to contact lenses. Everything bright and clear as we walked down Argyll Street!

The stained glass at the prelude depicting the story of the Prince transforming into the Beast!

And in 3D!

Somehow we were reminded of our 3DS, where the 3D effect was seen by a sense of depth rather than things popping out of the screen. And with such clarity. Made us want to run out and buy the 3D Blu-Ray version after the movie!

Well, so far we've resisted from buying the Blu-Ray due to the fact that we haven't a Blu-Ray player nor a 3D tv.

As for Doraemon, we admit that we had grown out of it a long time back. We admit, we used to watch the BM-dubbed cartoons (known for its high-pitch voice acting) and bought the BM-subbed comics. Asides from the short stories, there were the longer adventures that took up an entire book, featured a fair number of gadgets and had fantastic plot lines as compared to the mundane everyday setting as found in the short stories. Also perhaps we enjoyed it more because there was no "moral to the story" as found in the short stories.

The one we enjoyed most was Nobita's Great Adventure Into The Underworld, dealing with magic and demons.

So we got to watch the 2007 movie remake of that story, and we're actually surprised at ourself for not watching the original movie. Still, we remembered bits and pieces of the manga and were pleasantly surprised that the remake had great artwork and animation (like Doraemon's reactions when he sees a mouse!).

There were some changes that makes us want to get the book to read through again, just to see what they've removed and/or added.

The funny thing is, the DVD only has the cartoon in either Chinese (which we have limited comprehension) or Malay. In Malay, the translation is fine (although we're a bit puzzled at certain names like Lampu Moonlight and Bintang Devil instead of a full Malay translation), but we're somewhat disappointed by the expressions of the voice acting. Japanese anime tend to be rather extremely expressive and the voice acting here seems only half there to us. It's good, but could be better.

If we had the option we would have watched the show in Japanese with English subs. Perhaps somewhere out there there's a version of the DVD with exactly just that (we're not sure if we're ready for an English subbed version of Doraemon, though...).

Oh well. Now to wait for Disney to release The Little Mermaid in 3D!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

East VS West: Valentine

1. Chap Goh Meh Celebrations
2. Pre-Valentine Prep
3. V-Day

So if it wasn't for the Chief we wouldn't have known that Chap Goh Meh is considered the Chinese Valentine's Day. To us it was always more of a blind-date-fishing day where people throw oranges (and lately bananas...?) into the lake for other people to fish out and call the following day.

Although we can actually picture a scenario where a guy quickly snaps up oranges in a net, starts calling numbers (using a new prepaid sim card instead of his usual mobile number), checks to see which girl answers, and if he doesn't like her he'll hang up quickly and throw her orange back into the lake.

Anyways what this means for us now is that we have to prepare even more for the two days!

Interestingly for Chap Goh Meh this year it was celebrated with the Clan Chief and their friends in a big Chinese New Year dinner celebration, with the, ah, associated games to follow.

These dinners with the Clan Chief, we've never yet gotten over that stressful feeling when dining with them. Perhaps because of the language barrier. But then again we're quite thankful for that language barrier sometimes, it allows us to enforce our shy violet personality that we are.

We've also noticed since Christmas that we don't go window shopping as much as we used to. Gone are the days where we wander around spending the entire evening and night in 1U or MidValley planning out our purchases.

Thankfully (for now) there are still some gift ideas for us to get the Chief, and we've managed to prepare a small gift for Chap Goh Meh and started planning for Valentine's Day.

Yes well we place more emphasis for Valentine's and Christmas while the Chief gets more excited about Chinese New Year. Home decorating will be easy delegated once we stay together.

We've gotten the Valentine's Day card, the presents wrapped, and printed out the iTunes App Store gift (instead of emailing it), and instead of chocolates decided on cookies. We were almost late sending the card, though, but lucky for us the card arrived on the day itself! We're wondering if our postal service actually identify Valentine's Day cards, and hold them only to deliver it on Valentine's Day itself. Truth be told we were expecting The Chief to receive the card only on the 15th.

Now we feel a bit stressed, as if we now must make sure that the card always arrives on the actual day itself!

Amusingly the yearly gift-giving process (birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's, Christmas) led The Chief to jokingly ask us if it is okay to give us angpows instead in the future.

...because it's not that The Chief doesn't know what to get for us any more, it's more that what we want is extremely expensive.

No objections from us on that statement.

Well this year there's no predetermined dinner plans at any restaurant, in fact we were supposed to have eaten at home and watched Love, Actually or some other DVD. Turns out there was no dinner at home so the both of us made for MidValley for dinner and a movie. Dinner was good without being expensive as is the common belief (we went for ramen and they had a set which worked out cheaper then ordering a la carte, not to mention we had a discount using Citibank), we watched Chronicles (there wasn't any lovey-dovey rom-com this year, no?), walked around a bit and headed back home because, well, it was a working day the following day.

Hmmm darn it we still want to do Love, Actually again one day.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Change Would Do You Good

1. And now, for something different.
2. The Subway Challenge comes to a finish.
3. Resolution 2012

So there's this app called Memiary (that started from a website if we're not wrong) that haves you jot down five things that happened every day. A good way for a quick diary entry and to remember things, for sure, although there are days when you certainly won't find five things to jot down.

So we're going to try something different over here.

We're going to try out putting up three entries per post instead. Hopefully this doesn't take longer than an hour to do (somehow we always end up taking ages to blog, never under an hour) but hey, who are we kidding. Even now we're using Blogger on the iPhone to type this out and two-thumb typing isn't better compared to having a physical keyboard to piano our way through a paragraph.

So just this Wednesday we'd somehow come up with the idea to try a diet of Subway sandwiches in replacement of our main meals (lunch, dinner, supper). Goodness knows why, perhaps the image of a tapering figure, like a carrot, came to mind. In any case since Wednesday's Sub-Of-The-Day was Meatball Marinara (if Subway hadn't come up with the SotD specials we wouldn't have even considered this, yes), we didn't see the harm of trying it out till Friday (we don't think we could comply with this diet on the weekends when we're out with the Chief, who may strongly object to having to follow suit just because we had a fancy and were not strictly dieting).

Wednesday started well with us having a late sub lunch, although by gym time in the evening we were aware that a 6-inch sub for lunch will not sustain us during our workout. Had our dinner sub after that and, yes, the supper sub turned out essential (and not too filling, it seemed!).

Thursday we only had two Roast Turkey subs (brunch and late lunch) because we'd promised mum we'd be home for dinner (there was Ipoh salted chicken, how could we resist?).

By Friday...we were thinking of Thai green curry chicken. There was a Secret Recipe near the workplace, we're sure they would have that. We were sick of just having Subway already, far faster than the time McDonalds had the special edition Coke Can glass and we'd ended up eating like crazy to collect...24 glasses.

Anyways we'd our Chicken Slice for lunch and before we headed off for our workout, and the final sub post-workout. And with that experiment done, we got ourself something else for supper.

Ramly Burger, how we've missed you. It's been so long that the price of a daging double special has gone up from RM4 to RM4.80 and we never knew.

And now, resolutions. After two drinking sessions since the start of this year, we've woken up with thankfully no painful hangovers but with that feeling that there's alcohol still inside our stomach that wanted out one way or another. And that nauseating feeling really is a crappy way to start the day, especially worse when on one occasion we were suppose to follow the Chief out early for a bunch of stuff.

The Wrath of Chief, thankfully avoided when we opted to tapau breakfast back to our house instead of eating at the coffeeshop, so we had a little more time to recuperate without losing half the day.

Incidentally the second session resulted from 3 pints of Blackthorn cider. Amazing how our tolerance has gone down the drain. And upon retrospect, we'd neglected to eat something or drink more fluids after we got home, which was probably why we woke up feeling terrible.

So we're making this year's resolution not to have more than 1 pint of beer or not more than 2 units of alcohol. And even this resolution, after being made, was already broken less than a week later. Sigh. Maybe we have to avoid such social gatherings altogether then.

But learning from our past experiences, we'd gone for prawn noodles (with pork intestines! Yum!) after the drinking session, and next morning we woke up feeling fine!

So let's see how well we'll hold on to this resolution before we begin amending the quantity.