Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thai visitors

June's Thai colleagues dropped in on business, and we took care of their R&R like we did the last time. Apart from the opportunity to break from routine, these corporate visits mean that it is our duty to eat well and to find things to do in the name of keeping our visitors entertained.

One highlight was the five of us polishing off an entire Peking duck along with a number of other dishes at the Mouth Restaurant in Chinatown. We also took them on a whirlwind evening tour of Sentosa where they took a cable car across to the Jewel Box to rendezvous with us and M2 again. Spent the rest of the evening sipping Singapore Slings at the Long Bar.

Saturday was shopping for souvenirs at Mustafa's followed by an excursion to the Bird Park where neither June and I have been since, I don't know, forever. The place is greener than I remember, the enclosures now almost completely blended in with the natural landscape. Fed some lories and watched the pelican show, but other than that we didn't see much else due to time considerations.

Our tour service extended to taking them back to their hotel to collect their luggage before seeing them off at Changi.

Hmm... if ever I was considering a 2nd career...!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy birthday Linc

How disappointing that we neglected to bring our appetites with us when we went for dinner at the Rice Table. Seven of us finished off most of the first round of dishes, but over-ordered on the second round. Although the food (a variety of Indonesian-style nasi padang dishes) was good, we could only stare guiltily at the leftovers while we sat gorged full, though achieving far below our vaunted potential. And it was all the more tragic because we were at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Regardless, we still had a profitable evening meeting up with Linc to surprise him with a cake. Though his candle went out with no problem, the tiramisu cake that Wayne and Ton_y bought had frozen solid. It proved impossible to cut with the dinky toy knife the confectioneries thoughtfully provide for this purpose. So Linc got to take the whole cake home with him. Happy birthday, indeed!

Photo credit: Mel

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Spore infection

As a game, Spore kicks butt -- mine in particular. A peacenik pacifist approach to conquering the galaxy is doomed to failure and I am watching my empire crumble to dust against a hostile alien intruder and learning that sometimes the best defence is indeed a good offence.

Time to rebuild anew, perhaps with a better strategy that balances diplomacy and trade with self-defence and a mind bent on colonial expansion. Doing favours for other galactic civilizations does no good at all when an implacable foe arrives at the back door guns a-bristlin'.

Spore, first and foremost, is a creative tool for designing creatures and their accoutrements; their buildings and vehicles that they will use to explore and influence their environment as they climb the evolutionary ladder. There are so many shapes to play with. Each part allows its dimensions to be further toyed with, and they all snap together in so many different ways, in perfect symmetry too if desired. With a tool this simple to use, any Philistine now has the power to be an artist. You can check out my designs, for example.

But it's no fun just designing stuff. Our designs have to be tested to see how they respond to some form of context -- in this case, the game environment -- and to see if our creations live up to our expectations. The fun thing is, everything we create goes on the "Sporepedia" to be shared with other Spore players around the world. So apart from stock designs, the creatures and things that populate my game environment have been created by other players, while my creations might show up in theirs. How cool is that?

As for the game itself, the first four stages of evolution are quite easy to achieve. Just gather enough resources, tools and population to bludgeon all competition into submission. "Bludgeon" in this case could mean either overwhelm them with violence leading to extinction or with such a degree of love and warmth that they capitulate out of sheer weariness and agree to become your BFF... forever.

The game truly begins when your creatures evolve to the spacefaring stage. Compared to the tiny tidal pool from which your first single-celled organism eventually outgrew, the galactic map is huge, with a near limitless number of places to explore, missions to accomplish, colonies to establish, friends to make and enemies to destroy; and all the time growing and evolving the capacity to dominate everything. Or be dominated. It's an equal opportunity universe.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Spore: First Contact

Spore has been keeping me busy for two nights already. It's like having a virtual Lego set with so many diferent bits, each as customizeable as we are able to imagine and the possibilities are endless!

The badge above lists the things I've created so far, and I don't think I have been very creative at all. I just hastily threw some bits and pieces together, tweaked and aligned them so that they don't look too weird, then chose the colour scheme from the stock palatte (though there's a custom palatte for players with way to much time on their hands).

Apart from building things, which in itself is fun, there's a game to play too. Too early for a proper review now. I'm just about ready to launch into the main part of the game: galactic domination. That should hold my attention for another couple of days or so...

Will report back when the galaxy is mine! Mwa... ha... ha...!