Gaming Your Life: What To Do When Someone Parks Like a Jerk?

you park like an assholeGame writing and game design incorporate concepts that can be applied to regular life quandries. Here’s an example: recently I came across a question at Quora that cried out for a good gaming kind of strategy. The question: “What are some clever ways to mess with people with expensive cars who consistently park in two parking spots?”

Obviously, this applies to people with cheap cars too, and people who park across the line rather than trying to hog two spots. Basically, anyone who parks like a jerk.

The answer: I flip their wipers up.

This draws attention to the car and makes it stand out from all the other cars in the lot, which is what we want. The car then looks like it’s got its hands in the air, waving.

And hopefully it makes the driver think about what they might’ve done to warrant such attention. It’s quick, it’s non-destructive, and if the driver was forced to park that way because of someone else’s crappy parking job, well, no harm done. I’m hoping that more people use this method until it becomes the common way of notifying bad parkers that they have been seen and found wanting.

Not all cars/trucks have flippable wipers, but most of them do. It’s a convenience for the owner, who can replace the wiper refill when it’s flipped.

I’ve seen a number of different approaches to this problem, and most are a little more elaborate and honestly less effective. For example, Amazon has a variety of parking notes and fake tickets which you can keep in your car and leave on problem vehicles. And Lifehacker has highlighted the You Park Like an Asshole folks, who sadly seem to be out of business now. These methods are useful in communicating your displeasure, but I think it helps when the driver knows that others have been walking by their atypical car and scoffing at their parking job.

The gaming principles at work here are mostly social. Just like Ebay ratings or bad player reports. Social pressure – or even the possibility of social disapproval – is a powerful motivator. A lot of people will misbehave if they think no one’s paying attention or can rationalize themselves into thinking that “I’m not hurting anyone.” Knowing that their car has been the object of speculation and mockery can definitely influence a bad driver’s behavior.

And if you ever want to take it to the next level and report a bad parker or bad driver over the internet, there are several possibly defunct apps and a website for doing exactly that. These tools are definitely a satisfying way to share your woes and laugh at the ridiculous antics of others. And they make a permanent record of the bad behavior that’s linked to the driver’s license plate number. However, the chance of the report making it to the driver in question is pretty dang low at this point.

Anyhow, here’s the original Quora post. If you like it, please vote it up and share it with your friends!

Try Our Free RPG Demo

Get the Free RPG Demo

Get the demo! You can now play five levels of our Steam JRPG, The Peloran Wars, on your PC by downloading the free demo here. For the best experience, maximize the window after launch.

Our sequel is already in production. While The Peloran Wars was an epic branching journey of international conflict and clashing armies, the sequel, The Tower of Brax, is more of a dungeon crawl, although our four heroes are going up instead of down. Tower of Brax focuses on the untold tale of the heroes who fought to recover the mythical crimson sword from the devious Braxian cultists.

Cheap Batteries? Are The Best Rechargeable Batteries In Your Trash?

cheap-batteriesI Found An Unlimited Supply of Cheap Batteries at the Library

Rechargeable batteries aren’t cheap. And buying and trashing batteries ain’t cheap either. But I think I’ve found a limitless supply of cheap batteries and I bet you can too.

The key is that most battery chargers don’t charge alkaline batteries, the most common kind of battery, the cheapest, and the kind that most often ends up in the trash. When people think of rechargeables, they think of NiMH (nickel metal hydride), NiCd (nickel cadmium), and Lithium batteries. And these rechargeables aren’t cheap.

Step One: Get a Charger That Recharges Cheap Alkaline Batteries

That’s right: this is an inexpensive battery charger at Amazon that costs less than $30 and recharges NiCd, NiMH, and alkaline batteries. It also has smart circuitry that recharges them appropriately for their chemistry and doesn’t overcharge them blindly. I’ve been using this charger for years with almost no problem. (The LCD display is a corroding a little.)

Step Two: Find an Unlimited Supply of Cheap Batteries

You might already have a lot of spent or half-spent cheap batteries lying around the house. If so, you know what to do.

If not, search the web for battery recycling locations in your area. Hardware stores, electronics stores, and libraries often have battery recycling as a public service.

For me, the motherlode was the public library. There are all kinds of goodies in that bin, and fortunately it’s just a little blue recycling trash bucket that I can easily sort through. (You may want to pick your cheap battery source carefully so you won’t have to dig into anything awkward.) I found not only tons of alkaline batteries of all sizes, but also some nice NiMH rechargeables.

Of course, there are some caveats. Some of the batteries in the bin can be falling apart, and some may look new but have faulty chemistry so they don’t hold a charge. Make sure to inspect your new cheapo batteries carefully to ensure they aren’t cracked or discolored; those aren’t worth taking home to recharge. Any dark spots in the casing are indications that the guts are leaking through a crack. Leave those behind to be recycled as God and the engineers intended.

Step Three: Charge and Enjoy

You are now living large as a card-carrying member of the electrified elite. No more buying pounds and pounds of batteries at Costco and feeling guilty about contributing to the death of the planet. No more thrashing around looking for an elusive live AAA battery for a new device. Congrats!

PewDiePie Makes $15M/Year and Is a Racist


I haven’t watched much PewDiePie but occasionally I’ve enjoyed one of his playthroughs as a way to get a sense for a game. Now, after he’s been dropped by Disney and YouTube, I realize from the reports that he’s a dirty scumbag and a hero to neo-Nazi hate groups. (I also realize he was pulling in $15M per year for his goofball videos. WHAT?!?!)

This is yet another sign that the Internet is making it so we can’t have nice things. It used to be that you could watch baseball, play videogames, and pretend for a few isolated moments every day that we can all coexist without hating each other based on superficialities.

But no, that’s no longer the case. Baseball’s now political (I cite the congressional hearings where Democrats and Republicans lined up on party lines to support or criticize Roger Clemens for PED use). Choosing a home improvement store or a pizza delivery service is now political. And watching a freaking game playthrough is political.

I blame you, PewDiePie. Die, PewDiePie, die.

Okay, These Funny Facebook Game Thumbnails Aren’t Funny Anymore

funniest facebook game iconEver notice those little game thumbnails that appear in the top right of your browser when you’re browsing through your friends’ baby and half-eaten-meal pictures?

Yes, this is the tip of the once-mighty juggernaut that once powered the Candy Crush and Farmville empires. But the Facebook game ecosystem is pretty dead now as mobile dominates everything. And as a result, frustrated Facebook game marketers are getting more and more… seedy.

Above is my favorite (???) Facebook game thumbnail icon of recent weeks, beating even that poop-flinging game. When I noticed it, I had to do the classic double-take: What the heck is Facebook allowing on their site? Don’t they know kids and grandmothers are on here?

It looks like some kind of Kama Sutra madness, but no, it’s a stick-figure fighting game. I don’t know whether to salute their ingenuity or curse their lack of integrity.

And yes, Words with Friends and Lexulous are my games. What’d you expect from a game writer?

JRPGs versus Western RPGs

I just posted on Quora in answer to an interesting question: what do I prefer, JRPGs or Western-style RPGs, and why?

Since David Nguyen and I just published the JRPG Crimson Sword Saga: The Peloran Wars on Steam, you’d think I’d prefer JRPGs, but you’d be wrong. I’m a Western guy, and David is the JRPG fan. But I see the appeal of JRPGs and I’ve played and enjoyed both flavors.

Why am I disenchanted (ha ha) with JRPGs?

  1. There are always exceptions, but I feel JRPGs are more character-focused and dialog-focused, with the dialog word count often doubling or tripling equivalent Western RPGs. This wears on me, even if it’s a game with a storyline I enjoyed, like FF VII. I want to know about the major threads, but I don’t want to listen to a tertiary sidekick vent about how their ingrown toenail reminds them of some traumatic childhood incident (exaggeration, but only a slight exaggeration). Skyrim and Fable are more my style. Exception: I enjoyed Planescape Torment but the incessant dialog rivaled the talkiest JRPG, and they made no effort to distinguish between primary quest interactions and “color” interactions with inconsequential NPCs.
  2. JRPGs tend to be a little more colorful and fantastic. JRPGs are high fantasy where a team of plucky teens in fanciful costumes is fighting to save the world from the ultimate evil. Western RPGs lean toward low fantasy, a little grittier and more… um… adult. The characters are older, their stories a little less fanciful, and their experiences more equivalent to medieval history (although I don’t think anyone would confuse an RPG with history). I prefer the latter.
  3. Did I mention those fashions and costumes? Yeah. I can pass on the bright yellow rain slickers and the pompadours. They’re great for distinctive cosplay, which is also not my thing.
  4. Some JRPGs overdo it on the replayability and depth thing. I enjoy a minigame as much as the next guy, but I don’t want an RPG to force me into a 40-hour-long racing tournament with subpar gameplay. Nor do I want it to inundate me with dozens of half-baked minigames that should’ve been whittled down to one or two strong ones. I respect players who want their game to be a lifelong adventure, but that kind of immersion isn’t my style.

That said, I think there are some things that JRPGs do better than Western ones. Humor, color, distinctive locations, and gameplay innovations, for example. Western ones tend to be so traditional they’re almost remakes, and some are simply boring dungeon crawlers.

Honestly I feel like the Western RPG genre is a little fallow right now, with the last great game being Skyrim (although I hear Witcher 3 is a hoot). I picked up Dragon Age: Inquisition and was quite disappointed in many ways. Their loot system was terrible, and made it very hard to see when you’d found a cool item. And the storyline was complicated and (although some of the companion romances were charming) sterile. No story, no loot ? no fun.

And so it comes back to story and the power of narrative. I’m a game writer at heart and strong writing always wins in my book. I’ve seen great JRPGs and great RPGs, and I believe you can’t do a great RPG without a great story. Even the hoary old RPGs like Wizardry had compelling stories, even if some of the narrative twists were simply delivered in the form of the arrival of some fantastical new weapon or bizarre new foe in the game interface.

Our Steam Game on Sale! Launching in 6 Days

Our Steam Game Goes on Sale in a Few Days

I’m happy to announce that our Steam game goes on sale in less than a week! The project is the brainchild of my client, David Nguyen, and it’s titled Crimson Sword Saga: The Peloran Wars. Built in RPG Maker, it’s a “visual novel,” a role-playing game (RPG) in the style of Final Fantasy and Tactics Ogre.

There’s a lot of turn-based monster-smashing fun, but it’s also an epic story exploring the lives of a case of 57 characters over the span of 74 chapters. Building out these characters and giving them all human concerns, quirks, and dreams was a true privilege and I thank David for bringing me this project.

If you’re interested, check out The Peloran Wars on Steam! From the game page, you can add it to your Steam wishlist, visit the game website (where you can download the free five-chapter demo!), or… in a few days… buy the game!

Okay, here are some screenshots:

Tom Clancy’s “The Division” Sequel Announce: Box Art Released

Ubisoft’s The Division console game has been a fairly strong success (with an 80/100 rating on Metacritic)… but it came out in March 2016 and time moves fast in the videogame industry. Thus it was no surprise that the sequel to Tom Clancy’s The Division was announced in July on Sweatypistol.

The new game, as many anticipated, will be called The Multiplication, with future games in the series bearing the names The Addition and The Subtraction also named in the press release. The game is cross-branded with edutainment heavyweight Sesame Street and features the Count character in the new press package. We expect that The Sine, The Cosine and The Blindly Solving for X on the Midterm in a Cold Sweat will be soon to follow.

We at Game Writer Central are elated to release exclusive box art for the new game, which bears the full title Sesame Street and Tom Clancy’s The Division: The Multiplication. Click to enlarge.


Unemployed men are wasting away playing videogames, says CSM

videogame-unemployed-menApparently the Japanese aren’t the only ones struggling with listless and purposeless young men. Who are these guys?

In Japan, as described in this aptly titled 2011 Kotaku article “The Depressing World of Unemployed Nerds,” there’s a growing problem of young males who have effectively dropped out of society and are relying on the positive feedback of videogames and paid chatgirls to satisfy their basic social needs.

And now a new academic study is being mentioned by the Christian Science Monitor as discovering a similar problem in the United States, with these slacker boys polling as generally happier and more content than their peers. I think it’s important to note here that their peers are guys with a high school diploma or less, so it’s not too surprising that they find their warehouse or Walmart jobs uninspiring.

I think you could argue this two different ways. One, it’s pretty sad that these guys are happy to game their way into total oblivion and irrelevance. This is definitely not the way you want to see people adapting to 21st Century challenges, especially when employers (many game companies among them) are seeing talent gaps in a lot of key fields. The counterpoint, two, is that perhaps these sad slackers are getting valuable therapy from their videogame exploits, keeping their minds sharp in virtual environments, like the kid from The Last Starfighter, until the right job or inspiration strikes them and they spring into action. Maybe these guys would be psychopaths or suicides without videogames.

Opposites? Maybe. Or maybe it’s a combination of the two.

Scott Feldman’s Revival? And Bending the Rules in the Oldest Game

Normally this blog is about videogames, but today is about a different kind of game. The summer game! Baseball, of course!

Scott Feldman Reborn?

Here’s an insight for you baseball fans. The Astros’ Scott Feldman is one of those veteran pitchers who’s now vacillating between the bullpen and a starting role. He’s 31, has been pitching in the majors since 2004, and has been doing a pretty good job this season, 5-3 with a 2.76 ERA, down from last year’s 3.90. But he was bumped to the bullpen in late April and like all pitchers who signed on as starters and are now essentially filling in where needed, Feldman feels a little lost.

The interesting part is that, pushed out of his comfort zone, Feldman is now experiencing a renaissance of sorts as his fastball, typically in the high 80s, is now blazing in the mid 90s. That’s the kind of velocity difference that marks the gap between a control pitcher and a strikeout artist.

Yesterday, Feldman got his chance to show how his velocity holds up in a five-inning spot start against the Angels. He gave up a single unearned run, struck out two, and didn’t walk a man. The key data, though, is his average fastball velocity, which came in at 90.7 MPH. That’s pretty good, since it takes a lot of fastballs to get through five innings.

Although a far cry from his best average of the year, which was 94.3 MPH in a one-inning relief stint against the White Sox on May 19, he threw harder yesterday than in any of his other 2016 starts, where his FBv varied from 88.0 to 89.4 MPH. Is he better as a reliever than as a starter? Hard to say, and that depends on the needs of the team. But here’s to Feldman’s revival. It just goes to show that your comfort zone is often the last place you want to be. I think that’s true of life as well as games of all sorts.

Bending (the Rules) Like Beckham

Okay, you gotta check out this pitching delivery:

Baseball’s an old sport, and a conservative one. But as we all know there are some old rules that haven’t kept up with the times, like the “ghost tag” that umpires allow around second base and the various nuances of what gets called a strike at home plate.

That’s why this guy — Carter Capps of the Marlins — is such a shocker. But the fact is… if the rules don’t clearly indicate that you can’t leap off the mound and throw your pitch when you land… well, you can. And as a result you’re the best and most cheesy reliever in the game, circa 2016. I mean, that crap is just hilarious.

But come 2017, we’d better see a freakin’ rule change, because that crap is just cheating.