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Survey Reminder!

February 27th, 2013 | Posted by Philip J Reed in Meta - (0 Comments)

Do You Want Your Breast Pinched?This is just a quick reminder for you to take my survey.

So take my survey!

Seriously, I’d appreciate it greatly. Many of you already have…so thanks! Anyone else, please take some time to answer these 10 questions anonymously. I’d be surprised if it took you longer than five minutes to do so, and I will be taking every answer to heart in order to make this blog more…good.

Sorry, I lost a little bit of steam there.

Regardless, please take the survey. ASAP. I’ve already implemented a few changes that you may or may not have noticed, and I have more on the to-do list. I’ll be taking every response into account, so please take the survey and be honest. Thank you in advance!

Let me take you on a journey through the past, to a magical time in our great planet’s history. I’ll set the scene for you:

A bleary-eyed world disconnects from Facebook for two and a half hours in order to watch a film about Facebook. An animated show called The Simpsons celebrates 20 years on the air, eight and a half of which were worth watching. A young Jessica Simpson releases an album of warbling Christmas standards in the hopes that it will generate enough money that she can do her own holiday shopping. And America comes, at last, to the tragic realization that their new president isn’t a Magic Negro after all…but is rather, disappointingly, just an extremely intelligent leader with his nation’s best interests at heart.

Yes, it’s 2010. And no I did not use a time machine to get us here…I simply inserted a dollar into Steam and downloaded World Basketball Manager 2010, the absolute best 2010 simulator I have ever played.

World Basketball Manager 2010

I haven’t played it yet…I’m about to play it for the first time which is kind of the whole point of this series…but I don’t think I’ve played any other ones so I think that’s a fair assessment no matter how it goes. (And as always, click the images for full-size. It’s funnier that way, I hope.)

World Basketball Manager 2010

On booting up the game I am presented with an option to run it in windowed mode, which automatically makes it a better game than Vegas: Make it Snappy. I also have an option to choose my skin color. I’ll go with orange, so that nobody will be able to tell whether or not I’m holding the ball.

There’s also a tab called EXCLUDE TOURNAMENTS. When I click it I get a list of around 50 different countries with check-marks next to them. I guess I can deselect any of the nations against whose races I am so prejudiced that I can’t even bring myself to play a game of basketball with them.

I de-select China.

World Basketball Manager 2010

I told the game — explicitly told! — to play the intro movie, but I guess that was just a short, choppy animation for the Ice Hole developer logo, because I’m immediately dumped onto this title screen that leads me to believe the entire game was developed in Microsoft Paint.

I click NEW GAME and it asks me for a “game name.” It helpfully suggests the game name “New Game.”

I sure as heck can’t improve on perfection so New Game it is!

World Basketball Manager 2010

Except I can’t get the game to start. I press Enter and nothing happens.

I press other buttons and things do happen, yes, but the game starting isn’t one of them. I just mess up my extremely well-chosen game name with garbage characters.

I can’t get this game to start. At this rate I’ll never see 2010!

I’m clicking everything. Nothing’s happening. I’ve pressed every button. Nothing’s happening.

I can click CREDITS and read about all the wonderful people who made this title screen, but I can’t play the game.

Doing something I never thought I’d have to do, I navigate to the game’s section on the Steam forums to see if anyone was discussing how to get the fucking thing started.

What I find instead:

World Basketball Manager 2010

There are only two discussions, both of which are baffled by the awfulness of this game. This screengrab comes from the more active of the two threads. The other is titled, simply, “wat.”

I don’t know what to do. Everyone’s talking about how bad the game is, which I guess should make me at least somewhat happy that I can’t play it, but certainly they had to get further than the title screen in order to make that determination.

Right?

Maybe not. I’m stuck at the title screen and I’ve sure as cock made that determination.

World Basketball Manager 2010

I find the website for the game, in the hopes that there will be some instruction on how to START PLAYING THE THING. Nothing, but their FAQ is crawling with concerns about game-crashing issues and the answers to simple questions (such as how to activate and deactivate basic features) tend to be “install this patch to keep your computer from catching fire when you try to run this horse shit.” Promising.

BUT I STILL CAN’T PLAY IT.

I finally look for some footage of the thing on YouTube to see if anyone has actually successfully started the game. Sure enough when the guy in the video — whose disgust for this game is already palpable — types in the name of his game, a little CREATE button appears in the lower right.

What’s that? You don’t see that in the screen grab above?

Neither do I.

It was under the Windows task bar.

Yep. Great design, Ice Hole!

Of course it’s not their fault…how were they to know that literally everybody ever has their task bar locked to the bottom of their screen?

Everybody but me that is, because I now had to move mine to the right in order to make room for World Basketball Manager 2010. I expect that’s something you won’t hear many other people say today.

World Basketball Manager 2010

The game has helpfully auto-completed the appropriate fields with my personal information. Or its best guess, which is that I’m a middle-aged Indian man who coaches exactly as well as he psychologizes. He also somehow has a perfect 10 in youth, despite the fact that he’s five years away from being eligible for residency in a retirement home.

Already I’m irritated by the fact that I need to click to this window in order to type my commentary by moving my mouse to the RIGHT SIDE OF MY SCREEN WHEN IT SHOULD BE THE BOTTOM but it’s okay. It’s okay. I’m doing it for you. I need to keep doing it for you.

I name myself Philip Reed, 32, U.S.A. Don’t ask me where I got all that…it just sort of came to me. I leave all of my stats at 10 because that’s the maximum and why the hell wouldn’t I?

Even with the task bar moved I can’t see where I need to click, but if I move my cursor just off the bottom of the screen I can click whatever it is anyway.

Did I mention you can’t resize the window? This is truly stellar stuff, Ice Hole.

World Basketball Manager 2010

This grammatically-troublesome invitation is also the least inviting thing imaginable to me right now. Pairing it with a geography test isn’t helping to get me in the mood for fun. I don’t know where half these places are. (Okay, more like a quarter, but go along with it please.) Even less do I know / care about their historical basketball skills.

Fuck it, I’m already overthinking this. I’m picking Serbia.

World Basketball Manager 2010

Now shitting what.

And why is it August 19, 2009? I was specifically told I’d be enjoying some 2010-era basketball action, not this mid-to-late 2009 bullshit! Everyone knows basketball was a joke between August 17, 2009 and September 10, 2009!

I don’t know what to do.

I’ll click World News.

World Basketball Manager 2010

Hm. Slow news day I guess.

I click blindly through some menus with the vague hopelessness that precedes any upcoming basketball game, I guess, and try to pick a fight — that’s what they call it in sports, right? — with Canada.

I get this:

World Basketball Manager 2010

I don’t get this.

What does this mean.

What does any of this mean.

Are these basketball words?

I don’t understand basketball words.

Please just let me play some basketball please just let me play some basketball please for the love of Jesus on the cross just let me play some basketball.

I honestly don’t know how to start a game. I click through to my own team info and I see that I’ve already won some Olympic medals.

World Basketball Manager 2010

GO TEAM SERBIA!

While I was reading the evening headlines and mindlessly poring over Canada’s dayplanner, my team went out and won a shitload of medals and awards!

I’m tempted to just end this “playthrough” here (though it’s more of a read-through I guess…my earlier presumption that this game was developed in Paint has yet to be shaken) with the joke that I WON THE OLYMPICS GAME OVER but, in the course of blindly clicking around (which passes for strategy in World Basketball Manager 2010) I clicked on the date and found that you can advance to the next match day.

So I will do that, obviously, and give the game an actual chance. Let’s just advance to the next match day and…

World Basketball Manager 2010

What.

WHAT.

How did I go four days back in time? What the hell is World Basketball Manager 2010 trying to pull? It’s bringing me even further away from 2010!

Why on Earth did the game wind back the clock? I just wanted to jump to, I dunno, A DAY ON WHICH I COULD FUCKING DO SOMETHING but instead it brought me backward.

To a day on which basketball is still not happening.

Let me just take a look around here to confirm…hmm…yep…no basketball. No basketball. Just me standing in front of the map from Dr. Strangelove‘s war room, waiting for something, anything, to happen.

Look, I know this is a management game. I don’t expect to be slam dunking and free throwing and ball dribbling and penalty stroking and whatever the hell else athletes do. But doesn’t managing a team entail more than sitting around with a world atlas open in your lap, waiting for your team to win some things so you can read about them?

I can click through to different countries but all it lets me do is look to see what games they’re playing while I sit around, doing nothing, waiting to be invited to a game.

World Basketball Manager 2010

Look. It’s insulting. Everyone else in the world — literally! — is having so much fun, but all I get to do is sit around fantasizing about what it must be like to ACTUALLY DO THE JOB I DOWNLOADED THIS GAME TO DO.

I can click on the names of the teams, including the Baston Ciltics a-fuckin-har-har, but that still doesn’t let me challenge them. It just lets me check out their roster and peek into their bank accounts for some reason. I guess that would be really helpful in Identity Theft King 2010 but for now it’s just a further reminder that somebody out there is getting paid to do the thing I thought I’d also be doing. Why am I just clicking on meaningless words over and over, like I’m being forced to navigate some middle-schooler’s hypertext poetry project?

I give up on this thing. If you want to play World Ass-Sitter Nobody “2010” then be my guest. Maybe you’ll even get it to work.

But for both of our sakes, I hope you don’t.

And with that, I’m putting my task bar back at the bottom of my screen. Where God intended it to be, Ice Hole.

World Basketball Manager 2010
Released: April 21, 2010
Price on Steam: $0.99
Regular Price on Steam: $4.99
Price It Should Be on Steam: You should have your credit cards taken away if you attempt to buy this game through Steam.

Alan Partridge running

As ever, a few items of business in place of a proper update. BUT READ ON ANYWAY BECAUSE I AM LINKING TO SOME THINGS WHAT I WROTE AND YOU WILL LIKE THEM MAYBE.

Please take my readers’ survey! Click here to do so. Seriously. This will help a lot, and it will give you a chance to let me know what you do and don’t like about this blog as we move into year two. It should take around 5 minutes at most to fill this out, so please, please, please do take the time. Again, that survey can be found here. And it’s as mandatory as a voluntary thing could ever be.

Spam is outta control, and it’s not unique to my site at all. In fact, I’m sure I get a relatively small amount of it by sheer virtue of the fact that nobody knows this site exists. (See? I know it would come in handy!) Anyway, the long and short of it is that I will no longer be sifting through the spam queue to find legitimate comments. I’m sorry for that to be the case, especially since I have found actual comments buried in there, but as of right now I have over three thousand comments waiting for review, and there’s no way I can get through those, followed tomorrow by another three thousand. So if your comment doesn’t post, please try again, or email me about it specifically and I’ll dig it out. In the absence of someone contacting me specifically though, it won’t be happening. I apologize.

Reviews of self-published and indie artists should be happening here more frequently now. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do with this blog, in order to give small writers a platform for review — I know how difficult it is — so expect to see more of those. If you know someone whose work could use a review, or if you have something you yourself would like me to review, please contact me. I’ll be adding a tab to the main navigation bar soon explaining my policy and linking to past reviews, but there you go.

I wrote about Bob Dylan for Ben Likes Music and you can find that post right here. It’s called Blood on the Tracks and the Emotional Paradox of Talent, and it’s my way of thanking Ben for all the great stuff he’s contributed to this blog right here, and also writing about Bob Dylan. I hope you enjoy it.

I also wrote about Terry Pratchett for Dave Wrote This, which is available for your snobby reading pleasure at this place. It’s called On Reading Pratchett as a Massive Snob, which explains why I phrased the previous sentence the way I did. So while it may look like I haven’t been writing much, that’s just an illusion. I’ve been writing SHITLOADS and just not putting it anywhere that you would see it. You idiot!

Anyway, thanks as always to Dave and Ben for their great stuff here, and I hope these pieces both repay them for their work on this site, and make up for any lack of updates. As always there’s some great stuff in the pipeline, so stay tuned!


“Free Four,” Pink Floyd
Obscured by Clouds, 1972

Flicker, How Much Are You Willing to Forget?FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this CD in exchange for review. No money changed hands and all opinions presented here are my own.

Every so often I get the opportunity to review releases by smaller, independent or lesser known artists. This is something I’d love to do a lot more of on this blog, moving forward. To that end I was contacted early this year by the band Flicker, who wanted me to review their new album, How Much Are You Willing to Forget?

In the meantime I read and reviewed Scott Bishop’s A Soul’s Calling first. Not because I hadn’t listened to this…but because I was finding it genuinely difficult to stop listening to this long enough to write about it. Doing reviews of unknowns on this blog led me to fear that I’d be flooding my reading and listening time with…well, stuff I’d rather not flood that time with. Here, however, Flicker has fenced me into the opposite problem: enjoying something to the point that writing about it feels intimidating.

Nevertheless, I shall attempt it.

There’s a definite Pink Floyd vibe to this collection of 9 songs, but I feel as though carrying the comparison too far does this band a disservice. After all, part of the enduring appeal of Pink Floyd has to do with their overt challenging of musical preconceptions. (The same can of course be said of Frank Zappa.) It gives them a pretty timeless shelf-life, but it also means that it’s easy to find examples of that approach backfiring, where they overreach just enough that the weirdness and experimentalism starts to feel silly and reductive. When it comes naturally the listener feels as though he’s being granted access to an entirely new and exciting universe, bursting with possibility. When it doesn’t come naturally it feels completely artificial, and somehow even embarrassing.

Here the experimentalism comes naturally, and the stranger passages — of which there are many — feel like integral parts of the journey. This is a good thing, because the songs are relatively long (five of the nine songs break the six-minute mark, and one falls just short) and if the experiment doesn’t pay off, you’re stuck with it for the long haul.

Fortunately, the experiments pay off, and there’s not a disappointing moment on the disc. Flicker shifts from brash to spacey to heartfelt in the space of a single chord change and it feels right. In fact, for an album of only fifty minutes or so, it sure covers a lot of ground.

What it does lack, I would say, is a stronger sense of cohesion…a symptom of its own ambitiousness. It feels as though the band is more interested in crafting a series of strong singular experiences than one grander, album-spanning one. Not a problem in itself, of course, but it does make How Much Are You Willing to Forget? feel more like a collection of impressive splinters than like one single work of art.

It’s a small criticism at best, and honestly not much of one at all, especially when the individual tracks are this good.

My personal pick for standout track is “Counting Time,” a cathartic series of smaller build-ups and releases that swirl about in an atmosphere of uneasiness. It’s a rare song that uses well-chosen moments of silence to make itself feel massive and eternal, and it’s easily the one I’ve returned to most. There’s also a brilliant, improvised-sounding vocal outtro by an uncredited female that adds a lot of personality to an already excellent tune.

As far as accessibility goes, both “Go” and “Everywhere Face” sound tailor-made for the radio…and, not coincidentally I’m sure, are recorded to radio-friendly lengths. The former is an absolutely Floyd-inspired ramp-up promising big things that the album fortunately delivers, and the latter is a much darker, pounding dirge that nevertheless carries the sense of immediate familiarity every single needs.

Some great and rewarding experimentation rounds out the experience in other tracks, such as “My Empty Head” which fills more than half of its space with a lengthy, airy jam that works brilliantly here and promises so much more if the band is willing to play around with it in concert. It’s passages like this that tend to resonate with me most, and in the case of Flicker it’s the moment that absolutely had me hooked. It takes more than talent to record a piece of music like this…it takes heart. And judging by this track alone, Flicker has a lot of both.

“Is This Real Life?” closes the album with a long, plaintive piano-driven ebb into nothingness, and it’s exactly the kind of gorgeous simplicity that only a band with this much confidence in itself can pull off well. It’s an excellent way to punctuate a debut, bringing both closure to the listening experience and leaving a lot of room to anticipate an impressive followup. It’s also a welcome breath of simple reassurance after an album’s worth of restless complexity, and a great way to bring the experience back down to earth.

It’s always nice to discover a new band, especially one so versatile and restlessly impressive. I look forward to hearing a lot more from them, so be sure to check them out on iTunes or at their Bandcamp page. And no rush on the follow-up, guys…I’ll have this one in rotation for a long time.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this CD in exchange for review. No money changed hands and all opinions presented here are my own.

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