Clouded Requirements.

I’ve been a long time fan of the Tropico series. According to Steam, I’ve spent well over a hundred hours as El Presidente, island hopping around on fictional tropical paradises, making sure my loyal tropicans get what they need, while secretly killing off anyone standing in my way.

In May 2014, the fifth installment in the series, Tropico 5, was released and I’ve been quietly sitting on the fence since, waiting for a sale somewhere so I could pick it up. A few days ago, Green Man Gaming started celebrating their 5th birthday by slashing the price on a lot of their games, and there it was: Tropico 5 for less than $10.

After downloading and installing the game, I was greeted by this error message on launch: “You need DirectX11 and a DirectX11-capable graphics card to run this game.” DirectX 11? No one said Tropico 5 required DirectX 11! Or did they?

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The Challenge of Time.

Time. It’s of the essence. It also heals all wounds and it flows like a river. It’s perhaps the most precious commodity, you can both sell your time to others and buy their time – but you can’t get it back once it’s gone. At least that’s how most of us perceive time, there are a lot of different and pretty weird theories out there that try to explain what time actually is.

Personally, I don’t dabble much in time theory. All I know is that the 24 hours a day I’m getting don’t seem to be enough. I’ve always found it hard to find time for everything I want to do, but it didn’t become a real challenge until a year ago, when Vilde was born. The majority of a day’s twenty four precious hours are consumed by standard affairs, things pretty much everybody use their time on: We’re working, doing chores around the house, cooking, eating, looking after our personal hygiene, sleeping, spending time with friends and family, raising kids, shopping and commuting.

I accept that these are things I need to spend my time on; it comes with the territory. A lot of it I also enjoy doing, so it’s not really a problem. But when all is said and done, there’s very little time left for personal recreation, and I, like most of us, need a little downtime.

I’ve finally realized that I have to prioritize hard and think smart to cover my selfish needs.

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You’re Not Wasting Your Time.

Meet Bryan Henderson. You’ve most likely never heard of him, but if you’ve ever visited the English version of Wikipedia, there’s a good chance you’ve read an article he has edited. Since 2007 he has made close to 50,000 live edits, the majority of them only to fix the incorrect use of ‘comprised of’.

Even though Henderson is somewhat of a Wikipedia celebrity and among the 1,000 most active Wikipedia editors, I first learned about Giraffedata‘s – that’s Henderson’s Wikipedia username – heroic effort while listening to episode 14 of the excellent Reply All podcast. While being interviewed by Reply All’s PJ Vogt, Henderson was asked what I guess many people, including myself, wondered – especially after reading his 6,000 word essay about the use of ‘comprised of’: Doesn’t he feel that he is wasting his time?

Here’s Henderson’s brilliant (and somewhat paraphrased) reply:

“Most people’s hobbies aren’t something that saves the world, hobbies are just something, you’re doing it for some crazy reason, it makes you feel good. So, when people talk about wasting time, I mean, is it wasting time to attend a football game? You’re not really accomplishing anything there, right?” — Bryan Henderson

What I take away from Henderson’s answer is that if you’re doing something you enjoy, no matter what that something is, it’s basically not a waste of time. The notion of something being a time waster or not is a very subjective one.

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A Boost of Energy.

Energy drink shelf.

I’m a man of habits. When we lived in Oslo, I had myself an energy drink every Friday evening, often visiting stores and 7-Elevens to find ones I’d not tried before. Now, things are a bit different. Pouring down an energy drink on a Friday evening is no longer an option, since I need all the sleep I can get. I won’t risk that whatever is in the beverage actually kicks in. So instead, I’ve started nursing my addiction at work, were I need a little energy boost from time to time. I’ve even managed to infect a co-worker with the energy drink bug. At one point the pile of empty cans on our desks grew a little too fast and we had to agree only to have one every Monday, Wednesday and Friday: Monday to get over the depression of a new work week, Wednesday because we were half way through the week and on Friday because, well, it was Friday!

A can of energy drink three times a week might not sound too healthy, but the alternative is to drink lots of coffee to stay sharp, and I doubt that too much coffee is particularly healthy either. Hell, you can even die from drinking too much water. And if a can of energy drink can replace a couple of cups of coffee, I really don’t see it doing any harm, at least not any additional harm. Besides, there are regulations dictating how much caffeine the manufacturer can mix into their secret recipes. In Norway, the magic number is 32 milligrams of caffeine per 500 milliliters. A cup (about 200 milliliters) of instant coffee, by comparison, usually contains between 65 and 90 milligrams of caffeine. Quite a lot more, in other words. The typical energy drink also contains loads of other ingredients, like unholy amounts of sugar and extracts from various mysterious herbs found deep inside of the Brazilian rainforest. The point I’m trying to get across here is that everything is unhealthy if you consume too much of it.

Since I’m now on parental leave I can no longer take part in the energy drink orgies at work – I doubt that they are still in effect anyway, since I was the enabler – so instead I’m planning to go back to my original a-can-once-a-week-routine (except not in the evening). For me, having that can is not about clenching my thirst, or getting the boost of energy the can promises. It’s about relaxing and actually enjoying a great beverage. Some people have a glass of wine to kick back and relax. I’ve got my energy drink. It’s about time people realize that energy drinks aren’t only for mixing with alcohol at frat parties or for South Korean StarCraft players who need to keep their APM at peak level through the wee hours of the night. Energy drinks are right up there with the finest wine and the most obscure microbrewery beer.

So now I’m going to do something about just that. You guessed it: It’s review time!

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The Failures of Kickstarter.

You are probably familiar with Kickstarter, the site where people with an idea can share it and try to finance it through crowdsourcing. Every Kickstarter campaign asks for a sum of money, which is a pledge goal they have to reach before the campaign finishes. If the goal is reached or exceeded, the project will get the funds. If the goal is not reached, all pledges are returned to the backers.

So far I’ve backed 16 successful projects on Kickstarter, all of them in the games category. Some of these projects have been massive money printers for the creators, like Planetary Annihilation, which raised USD 2,229,344, and Torment: Tides of Numenera, with USD 4,188,927 from 74,405 backers. Kickstarter’s greatest success story, regardless of category, is perhaps Pebble, a smartwatch company that not only raised USD 10,266,845 and went on to become a well known brand name, but also arguably kickstarted (pun very much intended) the smartwatch craze we’re seeing these days.

Wow.

You can probably see why Kickstarter seems like such a great place to raise money for what – at least in someones head – sounds like a fantastic idea. But while a few Kickstarter campaigns are immensely successful, the majority of them fail to meet the pledge goal before the time runs out – and some of these campaigns fall so flat on their face, it must really hurt for the people starting them. At the time of writing, there are 8 campaigns in the games category that will finish within the next 48 hours and have failed to raise a single dollar so far. Nil. Zip. Nada. Some of them have been running for almost 60 days.

Ouch.

Let’s have a look at a couple of the campaigns and try to figure out why they crash and burn this hard.

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