John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica

 The different ways I don't like you 
 in a list that may never become organized
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Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Quake 2 - Forces of Evil

Quake 2 - Forces of Evil

Here's the storyline of the great Q2 SP/DM mod entitled, Forces of Evil: 1-4, by Chris Spain. All four FOE versions have incredible maps, superb models and well planned game flow.

Forces of Evil I
FOE1: tank Background: This level is set before the events in Quake2. To most people the existence of the Strogg is merely wild rumour. The only people who know more are those who work for the Top Secret "Alien Counter-Insurgency Bureau". Investigating unexplained UFO sightings, alien abductions and other seemingly unlikely events, the Bureau has come to the conclusion that behind some of these events there lies a frightening reality.
It is the Bureau's opinion that a malignant alien force (known as the Strogg) intend to invade the Earth at some point. Current investigations indicate that the alien's home planet Strogg lies many light years from Earth, but that they have sent one or more spacecraft here in order to set up some kind of interstellar wormhole device, thus allowing a full scale invasion of Earth from Stroggos. In the last few days contact has been lost with the Freedom Space Station.

All attempts to locate a Strogg earth-side H.Q. have been fruitless. However news has just come in that a group of agents sent to scout-out one suspected site have not returned, raising the possibility that the captured agents might reveal the location of the Bureau's H.Q. under torture...

Now: It's the end of a worrying day at the Bureau. You're just getting ready to leave the Top Secret headquarters building when the Strogg attack! Using overwhelming force, and the element of surprise, the Forces Of Evil eliminate practically every agent within minutes. By chance you were in the basement bathroom when they attacked. Hearing the FOE approaching, you grab your blaster and get ready to fight ...

Forces of Evil II  
As sole survivor of the devastating Strogg attack on the Headquarters of the A.C.I.B., you are the only human who knows of the existence of the alien threat. The information stored on the data CD gave the location of the house in the hills where the agents disappeared, as well as plans detailing a means of access via the sewer system. Unfortunately, you will need to locate the lost agents to retrieve a set of fingerprint pads to bypass the building's security system... FOE2: Space Shuttle
Forces of Evil III  
FOE3: Low gravity - high view It seems that the Strogg launched an interstellar vessel some years ago designed to reach Earth and establish a bridgehead for full scale invasion.

In order to facilitate the invasion they intend to set up an interstellar wormhole device to act as an instantaneous gate between the Strogg planet and Earth orbit. A small preliminary gate is currently being prepared on the Strogg vessel...

Forces of Evil IV  
Having discovered this information you decide that the only course of action open to you is to get in the shuttle and head for the space station. When you get there you're going to show these aliens just who they're dealing with ...

If you can, you're going to stop them setting up the interstellar gate device. If it's already up and running? Well, maybe that thing works both ways, in which case you might just make a home call on the Strogg themselves ...

FOE4: This nasty bastard blocks the gate

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Monday, February 16, 2004
Quake 2 - Loki's Mission: Escape

Quake 2 - Loki's Mission: Escape

As far as Quake 2 Single Player mods go, Loki's Mission: Escape is a good one.

You are the only member of your platoon to be captured alive. You have been imprisoned on a Strogg space vessel on it's way to Stroggos, where you will most likely be turned into food. As luck would have it, you're able to overpower a careless guard in your cell and take his blaster. This is where we begin. What comes next is up to you. Good luck, you'll need it.

Loki's Mission: Escape has the lmctf plasma rifle making an appearance. It fires in 2 modes; spread and bounce. There is a new type of soldier called the plasma soldier. There are 2 varieties; 1 firing a bounce plasma rifle and 1 firing a spread plasma rifle. His model is the same as the other Q2 soldiers but you can identify him by his blue and black skin. His aim is better than normal but he dies just as nicely.
As told, you start out on the Prison Ship map, but soon you must take a space shuttle to the Orbital (map). Some very cool models were made for LM:E. Don't admire the two manned cannons too long or they might turn you into toast, if you don't take them out quickly. The Beyond the Teleporter map is an enormous outdoor canyon with a HFD energy-beam-powered disneyland skytram to take you from one end to the other end, where you enter the research facility.
After you kill everything in sight, accomplish your mission goals Within the Enemy and disable the facility defenses, you make your way back through the canyon and teleport back up to the Orbital. Once back up there, you Run Like Hell and take a shuttle back to the Prison Ship. This is where I accidently dropped the Quad through the friggin' window out onto the space cannon while trying to get a good kodak moment. Doh!
After you insert the data CD and fire the first volley with your HFD space cannon at the planet, some space fighters show up and all hell breaks loose. If you don't run across the bridge and fire the lasers at these fighters, they will continue shooting at the Prison Ship and you most certainly will die. Luckily, it's easy to press buttons in a frantic blind panic on the bridge. The lasers take out the fighters, and you can continue firing the big cannon. After it finally blows up, you get to hear the happy music and see THE END credits screen.

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Sunday, February 15, 2004
By the numbers
Saturday, February 14, 2004
Happy Valentine's Day etc

violence is good for you  Your name is Mel Soaring. A couple of years ago you stole a pod and escaped Earth where you were wanted for the murder of Commander Tokay and one of histories greatest hero's, the man who defeated Makron. Since then you have lived on a planet named Meeylark with a small population of Iron Maiden. Having defeated Meeylark's ruler they took your side now that you had the power. You have fought off the ravages of the Strogg, Humans and even some unknown race of alien that you recently discovered, which the Humans are calling Xen.

Every few months a starship will fly by and perhaps even try to land on your planet, or an airstrike will try to get close enough to cause some damage. After much planning you have decided to hit them back - both the Human's and Strogg. Your plan is not to win a war on your own, or even help win - it is to simply mark your name in history. After murdering one of the highest ranked men on Earth, and the living legend Private Bitterman, you have already become the greatest villain in history. Now it is time to hit the Strogg and become their worst nightmare too...

After much thought between you and the Iron Maiden, you come up with a great plan. On a planet named Llallik there is a great palace which stores the dead bodies of past Strogg leaders. Most importantly, right in the heart of this palace lies the tomb of the Makron God who was defeated by the very man you murdered two years ago. Because of the war, there are not many Strogg left to guard this palace, therefore you are to enter alone, kill everything in your path until you reach the great tombstone. There you will set a bomb and escape!

In doing so you will destroy what is probably the most important palace of the Strogg race, and perhaps even earn your name in both Human and Strogg history books as the greatest villain of the great war...

- from the alk04.txt file that came with the Quake 2 mod entitled "Mel Soaring 3: Tomb of the Makron God" by Shaun Ross aka [Kona].

This map was created and released over 4 years ago, but I got a hankering for some Quake 2 blood splatter.  As far as graphics, Quake 3 is an immensely improved game over Quake 2. But Q3 and Q3 Team Arena are just different games than Q2.  I've always appreciated a good Q2 mod, even if I have to occasionally give myself some armor, health and ammo.  The graphic above is in the last secret place of this map -- the gallery.  That's Tim Willits, the infamous Quake game designer. 

Why play an old game?  First, I think there should be a distinction between 'old' and 'timeless'.  Second, with all the hundreds of game mods out there for Quake, I'm sure you can play in a game map you've never seen before.  And thirdly, since I can't afford a psychiatrist, I needed to spend some quality time running up behind some Q2 characters and blowing their little digital heads clean off with my virtual shotgun.  Happy Valentine's Day.

Ahhh.  All better now.


Friday, February 13, 2004
Inventing a better future

It's all we got -- when it's broke, we're done.

Since it is Friday the 13th, let's discuss the luck and future of the planet.  Last week, Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, was given a report by the InterAcademy Council entitled "Inventing a better future: A Strategy for Building Worldwide Capacities in Science and Technology".  Upon receiving the report, he remarked in part about tapping into human creativity and innovation to reach millenium goals:

"Issues that most directly affect what we hope to achieve for ourselves and our families.  Issues that relate to building a life free of poverty and deadly disease, with enough food and clean drinking water, in a clean and safe environment.  Issues that are identified in the Millennium Development Goals, adopted by all the world's leaders here at the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000."

Unfortunately, the IAC report has some bad news.  The full report is available online.  Here is a brief excerpt:

"For the first time, the majority of human beings are now classified as urban, a phenomenon that will continue unabated, mostly in the developing world, even though some will use the new information and communications technology to work out of more rural surroundings. Urbanization will challenge the capacities of developing nations to deal with the enormous problems of their 'megacities' (those with populations over 10 million). Over the next three decades, India alone will face an increment of urban population twice the size of the total populations of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom combined."

This fact is borne out in the research done by the Committee on Population and published in "Cities Transformed: Demographic Change and Its Implications in the Developing World (2003)" also available to read fully online at the National Academies Press (NAP).

The IAC report goes on to say:

"Poverty, destitution, and hunger still stalk humanity. Despite the enormous improvements that have been achieved in human welfare, 38 percent of the people in the least developed nations are malnourished and the shadow of starvation and famine still looms large in parts of the world especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where civil strife has exacerbated an already bad situation. One-sixth of the human family lives on less than a dollar a day, and almost half of humanity survives on fewer than two dollars a day. The richest quintile of the world's people earns more than 70 times the income of the poorest quintile."

These facts are well documented in last year's report at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) web site.  There are some astounding facts in the 2003 report that make what your mother told you about "eating your food because kids in so-and-so country are going hungry" sound lame.  If you follow no other link today, check out the quotable facts of HDR 2003.  Additionally, the IAC report continues:

"Problems such as HIV/AIDS strike globally, though responses to the disease's devastation vary enormously with a nation's capacity to deliver treatment and modify societal behavior. Some societies are producing a generation of AIDS orphans, with large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia facing enormous and crippling losses. The decimation of young adults at their most productive moments is a human tragedy of gigantic proportions and a social and economic nightmare. Dramatic policy changes are required to address this issue, as well as persistent diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis and the more recent threat of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). More research is required to find better responses. Scientific collaboration on confronting the challenge and on making the results of the research available to those who need it most is essential."

Unfortunately as I heard one witness testify in congressional hearings on NASA's budgetary hearings in light of president Bush's big "Go to the moon" plan, (paraphrasing) "We need to fund this technology, this research and development, to stay ahead of the world.  Do you want China on the moon before us?  It's a national security issue, frankly".  So, while it may sound good and be the right thing to do -- to share technology, that is -- we (the U.S.) are not always going to do so.

But what happens if we continue doing things as we always have --  Think, act and consume like it was the 1950s?

"Environmental challenges abound. If present production and consumption patterns are not changed, the impact on our biosphere will be astounding: the air and water we depend on will become increasingly polluted; the soils will more and more erode; and forests, habitats, and biodiversity will continue to be lost. If the entire population of the earth were to produce and consume at present U.S. levels, we would need three Planet Earths. The need to implement more environmentally friendly and socially responsible economic activity has never been greater."

I don't know about you, but I would drive a hydrogen-fuel car if I could.  We better start soon too.  The Millenium Goals are supposed to be reached by 2015.

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