Some Spore space tips

Everyone who is excited about Spore currently seems unhappy with Space, myself included. Here are some tips to get you through the tough parts and hopefully remove a little tedium.

  • Get an auto-blaster for your ship. Since targeting when fighting is so hard, this will end up helping a ton.
  • A little later on, get an allied ship and try to keep it alive, same reason as above.
  • Don’t start an alliance until you actually have room in your fleet for an allied ship.
  • Don’t colonize too fast. Try to keep to 2 colonies (+ homeworld) until the 2 colony planets each have at least 2 cities. Then expand to 3 colonies. Eventually it won’t matter, but if you expand too fast, you get into wars with too many races.
  • To simplify spice collection, make three T3 worlds in a system, and put three cities on each planet, that’s 90 spice per system, with less loading.
  • If someone won’t stop attacking you, attack back until they sue for peace, it’s generally worth the effort.

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Quick Spore review

Spore is 99% 80% 90% excellent. It is extremely open and fluid, probably one of the best gaming environments ever made, easily the ‘grandest’. The stages themselves are not the greatest games of their genres, but its easy to get past that. The one account per installation is very upsetting though, and the DRM is annoying for other reasons.

Edit:

Ugh, I’ve now gotten two games to space stage. The combat mechanics seem very sloppy, although I hope i get more used to them. At first, space is basically glorified whack-a-mole. There are problems and only you can solve them. They each take a minute or two to solve.

However, In both games, an aggressor has suddenly appeared on my doorstep and begun simultaneously attacking 2 or more of my colonies. Now I’m not sure how they do it, but I have only a single space ship (plus some flying puppies they call “allies”). I think in this case, the game designers short changed the combat AI in space stage, and instead made it a whack-a-mole/bullet-hell style game. I like hard games, but if I wanted bullet-hell or whack-a-mole, I probably wouldn’t be playing Spore.

Space would be a lot more fun if it were like the other stages, none of those eco or pirate events, and the same combat restrictions for you and your enemies. Oh well.

Edit 2:

I’ve played farther through space now and have some updates. It is still somewhat whack-a-moley, but I’ve learned how to compete when fighting, despite the mechanics being ugly. So is easy whack-a-mole better than hard? Well it makes it a little more open-ended, but a lot of the cool stuff I try to do still gets interrupted by someone’s eco-disastor, or a couple trivial pirates. You are able to ignore warnings, but in order to decide whether its ok to ignore, you basically have to investigate by leaving the planet or system.

Once you advance in space a few things get to be chores. Spice collection gets a little tedious. If you don’t do it every 5 minutes on a fully developed planet, you’re wasting spice. Also energy replenishing is one of those things where the only time you absolutely need to do it, is when you don’t have time, so I get into a “click rhythm” where I do it on any planet I trade on.

The targeting system is still very broken. If I’m trying to fire a laser at the ground to kill an animal, over half the time I’ll click the ground, but it will think I mean one of my 4 allies and start firing on them (no damage at least), and I have to maneuver my ship several times. This really adds to the tedium since I can’t just quickly complete ecological emergencies.

This makes Space still the worst stage yet, but a little better than I initially thought. Probably a case of shipping a quarter too early, all the other stages are really fun and feel throroughly tested, space seems to have skipped a large-scale beta.

I’ll add some space-age tips in a new post.

More to come…maybe.

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Becoming browser agnostic

For a while Firefox 2.x on Mac OS 10.4.y was my main browser. I often called Firefox 2 the “second worst browser”. It would hang for tens of seconds at a time, it crashed at least once a week, and it was all around slow in loading/rendering pages.

I eventually downloaded Opera. A couple config options and I began using this for casual internet browsing: Google Reader, Reddit, etc. I used Firefox 2 for work and websites that did not support Opera.

Around the same time I was also becoming a little more security conscious, I decided to set up Camino (which I had already installed) to not remember anything between sessions. I used this for online banking. As an added bonus, I can have other people who need to check their email on my computer use this, so I don’t accidentally log into their email later on.

Now I’ve upgraded to Firefox 3 and it is pretty fast and pretty awesome; however, I’ve already learned a secret. The browser is not truly the new OS, yet. Its the main application I use, but switching between them is even easier than switching between various unices, or even various linuces.

I now use Safari 3 for some flash applications because it is more likely to balance resources better when those flash applications decide they want 120% of my CPUs but Quicksilver is trying to get 100% as well.

So if you’re ever frustrated with your browser, start using another one for the things that frustrate you. It might get better.

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My coffee recipe.

(See also: My Iced Coffee Recipe)

To start you’ll need an Aeropress, and a grinder equivalent to Capresso’s Infinity conical burr grinder. A normal burr grinder or even a decent blade grinder would probably do just fine, but you might end up with a smokier taste.

You’ll also need a way to boil water, a sixteen ounce mug, and of course, some coffee beans (probably at least 1/8 lb to be on the safe side).

  1. Set up the Aeropress on your mug
  2. Now, bring the water to boil.
  3. Once it begins boiling, turn off the heat. If you leave it boiling, the water will be to hot when you brew.
  4. Grind on the finest “fine” setting on the infinity (not extra fine) for 25 seconds (#5 on the infinity), and pour grounds into the Aeropress.
  5. Now, fill the Aeropress the measuring cup/plunger to right between 2 and 3 cups.
  6. Trickle some water into the grounds, and then follow with a full pour
  7. Work Aeropress’s magic. (you know, stir for 10 seconds and then plunge for ~20)
  8. Remove the press and add skim milk until the volume is about halfway up the mug.
  9. Fill rest of mug with heated water
  10. Wash Aeropress
  11. Enjoy!

I suggest not adding any sugar, so you can get the taste of the bean. Trust me, give it a couple tries if you’re used to sugar. If you use this method your coffee will not be very bitter—only the natural bitterness of the bean which is much less than you’d expect.

This method seems to work well with anything from half city to darker full city roasts. I haven’t tried a French roast (I just really don’t like them). If you use a very light roast, your coffee will sour after about 20 or 30 minutes, but anything darker will be fine for at least an hour. It won’t go bitter at all!

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Outsourced

I got a chance to see a screening of Outsourced (link plays music). The producers are experimenting with completely independent distribution, as opposed to just independent production. In support of the model, and because it was very good, you should try to see it. Unfortunately its not playing in theaters everywhere, although they seem to be screening it wherever and whenever possible. Try to hunt down a showing if you can. They are also selling DVDs, which I am considering purchasing as gifts or such.

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