Civilization V - George Washington of America

Continuing my series of strategy posts about Brave New World's modified civilizations, I'm going to take a look at strategies for George Washington's America. Since Brave New World's Fall patch (2013) America's ability was buffed and its unique unit now allows it to generate more late-game golden ages.

The lands of North America have been occupied by various native tribes for thousands of years, but these tribes lived in relative isolation from the rest of the world, except (possibly) for a brief period of interaction with the Danish Vikings. After Christopher Columbus landed in Haiti in the late 15th century, a flurry of explorers and colonists primarily from Britain, France, Spain, and the Netherlands began arriving in North America, rapidly exploring and settling the continent. These colonists gradually displaced the native inhabitants, including the Iroquois and the Shoshone. But conflict between the colonies and their European masters (primarily Britain) eventually culminated in a revolutionary war in which the colonists retreated to the countryside, and used guerrilla tactics to defeat the British and establish the United States of America.

Despite being founded on the principles of "equality" and "inalienable rights", the early history of the United States is dominated by tension between its slave-holding and free populations. These tensions eventually culminated in the outbreak of the American Civil War, which resulted in more American casualties than the Revolutionary War, both World Wars, and the Vietnam War. Combined. Union victory established America as a modern industrial nation with a singular identity, and Americans stopped referring to the country as "These United States", and began calling it "The United States". This war is also significant in world history because it is the first major war in which industrial technologies such as the machine gun, telegraph, railroad, steam-powered ironclad ships, and (probably most significantly) photography were used to large effect, which changed the way that future wars would be fought and the way that they would be perceived by the public. And it was one of the first major wars to employ new urban fighting tactics that would become the basis of combat for the wars of the 20th century. America would play a pivotal role in those 20th century wars as well, and would emerge from them as a dominant global super power.

Civilization V - George Washington, leader of the American civilization

George Washington was a colonial general who lead the British colonies in America in wars against the French and various Native American tribes. When the colonies declared independence, Washington became one of the premiere generals for the new colonial militia. Knowing that they could not defeat the British in conflict in the cities or open field, Washington and the other colonial leaders gave the cities to the British and retreated to the hills and forests of the countryside. Here, they successfully employed large-scale guerrilla tactics that weakened the British supply lines and culminated in American victory. Washington would then become the country's first President and set several precedents, such as the idea that the President would be a civilian position (as he refused to wear his military uniform while in office), and that the President should step down after two terms.

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Not much has been seen of Hideo Kojima's Silent Hills since the Tokyo Game Show trailer last September. And now it looks like we might not be seeing any more from it any time soon. Or ever.

The latest news in the gaming world is that Hideo Kojima (and his studio Kojima Productions) is splitting from Konami. And it's a little early for April Fools... Apparently, the split is not amicable, as Konami has stripped Kojima's name from Metal Gear Solid V marketing material and that Kojima and his staff are now working as contractors to finish that game. Apparently, Konami and Kojima are planning on finishing Metal Gear Solid V, but Silent Hills may not be so fortunate.

Kojima interview
Will Kojima and his team be able to continue working on Silent Hills after leaving Konami?

Whatever happened at Konami, the company may have made a monumentally bad decision in forcing Kojima out. He has consistently delivered some of the best performing games that the company has ever made. On top of that, he has surrounded himself with a talented staff that have proven capable of developing solid game engines from scratch in order to make their games as technically-impressive as possible. Konami may be losing all of these resources.

But Konami is likely keeping the rights to the intellectual properties of Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill. It's possible that Konami might hire Kojima Productions as a contractor to continue Silent Hills (as they are apparently doing with Metal Gear Solid V), since the game uses Kojima's proprietary Fox Engine. But even then, if the developers and the publisher / IP-holder do not have a comfortable working arrangement, then the quality of the game may suffer considerably due to the competing interests of the two companies. And if Konami pushes on with development of Silent Hills without Kojima and his Fox Engine, then the final product will likely be a disaster.

Another possibility is that Kojima Productions could buy the IP rights to Metal Gear Solid and / or Silent Hill. I think that's very unlikely, considering that both franchises are cash-cows for Konami.

I also wouldn't be surprised if Sony makes a move to acquire Kojima and his studio to make first party content, since his Metal Gear Solid games were a premiere console-selling exclusive for the PlayStation. If that happens, and Kojima's studio is allowed to continue work on Silent Hills, then the game would likely become a PS4 exclusive. That's if the three companies can come to agreements with one another to begin with.

The last possibility is that Kojima Productions could continue to work on Silent Hills as their first independent game, but without the Silent Hill naming rights from Konami. It's unclear just how much (if at all) Silent Hills' plot was dependent on the established canon of the Silent Hill series. Since the P.T. demo and Tokyo Game Show trailer didn't show anything that specifically tied the game to Silent Hill in anything but name, this may not have much of an impact on the final product if it has to go forward without the IP.

At least one source has stated that Silent Hills has, in fact, been canceled. But I'm still waiting for more concrete clarification from Konami and / or Kojima before I give up hope.

In any case, it's too early to say anything about the future of Silent Hills with any certainty. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this story as it develops.

UPDATE: May 01, 2015, 12:00 am: Silent Hills has been officially canceled, petitioners demand Kojima finish the game

We all knew it would happen, and towards the end of April, Konami and Del Toro finally admitted that Silent Hills has been officially canceled. No real surprise here, but it is very unfortunate news. Del Toro verified on Twitter that the project "isn't gonna happen", a fact that "breaks [his] greasy heart.". Konami has also confirmed officially that the game's development has been discontinued.

This news hasn't stopped petitioners from requesting that Kojima continue development of the game. Sorry guys, but Kojima and Del Toro aren't the ones in charge! Konami is pulling the strings, and Konami doesn't want anything to do with Kojima. The only reason that Metal Gear Solid V is happening is that the game is practically already done. Having Kojima continue to work on it is just a formality. Silent Hills doesn't even seem as if it had started primary development, so Konami isn't losing much (if any) investment by canceling the project.

That being said, I did sign the petition. P.T. and what was shown of Silent Hills looked very promising from a horror gaming standpoint (not so promising as a "Silent Hill" game), and I was looking forward to the game being released. Feel free to sign the petition yourself; although, I doubt that it will have any efficacy.

Damn shame.

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Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band

Last weekend, I added an item to my bucket list:

Sing back-up vocals with an actual Beatle, in the flesh.

I then promptly crossed that item off of the list.

Sing back-up vocals with an actual Beatle, in the flesh.

My girlfriend and I had the pleasure of seeing a live concert performance of Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band at the Pearl Concert Theater in the Palms Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. I've seen several Beatles tribute bands perform, but this was my first time seeing an actual Beatle in the flesh.

Ringo's band is made up of former members of other bands such as Toto, Santana, and others, and so in addition to hearing a handful of songs from "that other band that Ringo was in", they also performed songs from the other members' former bands, ranging from Black Magic Woman to Africa and Bang on the Drums All Day. They also performed a few original solo songs from Ringo, such as Anthem. The Beatles songs that were performed were Boys, Don't Pass Me By, I Wanna Be Your Man, Yellow Submarine, and With a Little Help From My Friends - all songs originally written-by or sung-by Ringo. Not exactly A-List Beatles stuff, but - hey - a Beatle is still a Beatle!

With a Little Help From My Friends is actually one of my favorite Beatles songs, so that was nice to hear. In fact, one of my auxiliary Rock Band avatars has always been a custom Billy Shears character, based on Ringo's appearance on the cover of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. I'd show you a screenshot, but all my old Rock Band saves were lost when my PS3 died on me.

I've sung along to the Beatles a lot: in the shower, in the car, while practicing my guitar, while playing Beatles: Rock Band... But now I got to sing backup vocals with a Beatle: Ringo, himself! I did it from my seat in the audience, along with everybody else in the theater, but he was there, and I was singing with him. So that was special. And from now on, I can say that I sang a song with Ringo Starr!

Now I just have to keep an eye out for Paul McCartney visiting Vegas so that I can sing back-up vocals for Hey Jude...

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Koopa eating a dandelion
Koopa eating a dandelion back in spring of 2014.

Last year, my pet tortoise, Koopa began to outgrow her second burrow, and I had to construct a larger one. It was just in time, too, because she had actually begun digging underneath a brick that had lined the back of the burrow. If she had dug around the dirt a little bit more, the brick could have fallen she may have gotten stuck.

[LEFT]Koopa was getting a bit too big for her old burrow.
[RIGHT] She also dug under the brick that lined the back of her burrow, which could have caused her to get stuck.

Koopa becoming trapped in her burrow is something that I was particularly sensitive to, since earlier that year, one of the family's other pet tortoises had died. Nipper was a tortoise that my parents got when I was very young (around eight). I had grown up with her, and she had become a constant fixture in my life. Her appearance in the backyard was always the signal of the start of summer.

But she somehow became trapped in the burrow after hibernating the previous winter. She tried to dig herself out, but apparently didn't quite make it, and she either suffocated or starved to death burried under the ground. In May, after all the other tortoises had awoken from hibernation, and Nipper was still AWOL, my dad dug up the burrow to look for her, and found her lifeless corpse. It was a scene that I had lived all to many times in my nightmares growing up, as the health and safety of the tortoises was always a source of anxiety during the long months of their hibernation.

Her death was particularly traumatic for me, as I was completely unprepared for such an eventuality, despite having rehearsed it so many times in nightmares. When you adopt a puppy or a kitten, you also take on the uncomfortable burden of knowing that the animal that you are going to grow and love comes with an expiration date. Cats can live for an average of 15 years; whereas, a dog is fortunate to make it past 10 or 12 (depending on the size and breed). But the lifespan of the desert tortoise isn't entirely known. I've seen estimates ranging from 50 years to 150 years. But I think the general consensus is somewhere between 50 and 80.

Nipper with Bubbles
Nipper sharing a meal with her child, Bubbles.

In any case, when we adopted Nipper, there was a realistic expectation that she could outlive me! Having to cope with her death was not something that I was prepared to handle because I had a realistic expectation that I would never witness it. I always figured that I'd be passing her on to my children or grandchildren. So for her to pass away due to an entirely avoidable accident after a mere 20 years was heartbreaking. She was in the prime of her life, and should have had many more decades of happily chomping on dandelions.

I didn't talk about her death on this blog at that time because, frankly, it was too hard for me to talk about....

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PolyCast logo

Over the weekend of March 7, I was once again invited to participate in the Civilization podcast "PolyCast". It's always enjoyable to participate in this show. DanQ and the others always do an excellent job (even though Dan wasn't in this episode).

I particularly enjoyed this one because I felt that I had more to contribute than on some of the other episodes that I've been invited to. Part of that was because I actually reviewed the topics in advance and prepared for the episode. But it was also advantageous that one of the topics discussed was my own blog post about Civ VI ability ideas. I don't think that discussion made it into the edited episode, but it will perhaps make it into a clip show later in the year. Even so, I felt like I had valuable commentary on the other topics, and there were some good discussions.

The episode can be streamed in its entirety at thePolyCast.net.

The first and most significant topic of conversation was about a video posted by Errant Signal that takes a critical look at the meta-themes of Civilization and what they say about our perception of what it is to be "civilized".

His primary criticism is that the game unnecessarily puts civilizations in competition with one another, rather than fostering a spirit of cooperation; and that the various victory conditions in the game are very "American", "Western-centric" ideals. So our PolyCast panel discussed these criticisms and different game mechanics that contribute to them, as well as ideas for ways to alleviate them (particularly on the topic of victory conditions).

Another significant topic of conversation was whether or not we really want the different civilizations to have unique units and powers in the game. The question was posed on the Civfanatics forums by user Naokaukodem, who seems to be arguing in favor of removing the unique units and making them accessible to any civilization that techs to them. I think it is safe to say that the panelists on PolyCast were not in favor of such a change, and some good arguments (both mechanically and thematically) are made in favor of keeping the uniques as they are.

There were also some other discussions of various Beyond Earth topics and some other discussion. I'm not sure if all of it made it into the final edited episode, as we went well over the allotted time. So some of the discussion might have to be rolled into one of PolyCast's future clip shows. After listening to the full episode, all the topics discussed in the live podcast did make it into the edited version available on the site.

Thanks, as always, to the PolyCast hosts for the invitation. I hope to participate again soon!

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Gaming for life...

Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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'Silent Hill' is NOT about 'repressed guilt'; it's about occultism!'Silent Hill' is NOT about 'repressed guilt'; it's about occultism!03/04/2014 I was going through the comments on my posts a while back, and I came across a doozy of a comment by user Maiden T. I'm not going to replicate the entire post here, but you can review the comment at the link provided. In summary, the user asserts that Silent Hill, as a series, was never about occultism, and that all the games...

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What does "near the city" actually mean in Civilization V?What does "near the city" actually mean in Civilization V?09/05/2014 UPDATE (September 9, 2014, 2:45 PM Pacific Time) Shortly after publishing this blog, I came across a forum post that contradicts the information presented in this blog post. As such, I will review the actual source code in the Civilization V dll, do some more testing with the game, and revise the post as necessary. In the meantime,...