Stranger of Sword City

Have you been waiting for a dungeon crawler in the vein of Etrian Oddyssey or classics like Wizardry for the Xbox One? Your day is coming soon! NIS is bringing Stranger of Sword City to Microsoft’s console! I was fortunate to be selected to receive a preview copy and will be sharing my thoughts with you over the next several weeks.

My initial impressions are positive. The game features English-subtitled Japanese language dialogue. It’s a slight disappointment, but given the financials involved, not a surprise. Past that, it seems like the budget went into art design. The game features two sets of artwork you can hot-swap between, one with a more lighthearted design and the other with a bit more of a serious vibe. There is automapping as you’d expect, and the dungeon designs are nice. There is a fun feel that everything is a dungeon inside another dungeon.

I will be playing on Twitch over the next couple of weeks so everyone can get a sense of the game for themselves. For now, I am enjoying it and I hope you will enjoy exploring the game with me!


I am pretty excited about the arrival of 2016. Why? Because I have been waiting four years to watch 2016 Obama’s America, the masterpiece of 2012!

Dinesh D’Souza‘s critique and warning of what the world would look like in 2016 was widely seen, particularly for political documentaries. The reviews at the time were pretty scathing with a Tomatomater rating of 25%. I paid it little attention at the time, but decided if the president won a second term, I would watch the documentary in 2016.

The film is a bit difficult to find today. However one streaming service offers it: Hulu.

After watching it, I am a bit disappointed. I hoped it would make some real predictions about 2016. The film mostly suggests that President Obama’s rampant anti-colonialism will destroy the United States by raising taxes to as much as 100% of income in an attempt to redistribute that money not to poor people here, but poor people abroad. Obama is criticized for not using his position as president to make his extended international family wealthy as well. D’Souza also indicates that Obama has never, nor will he ever, take a stand against Iran’s nuclear program because he is in favor of Iran and similar countries throwing off the yoke of colonialism.

D’Souza does speak to a couple of people who know the president, but it’s mostly filled with people afraid of him guessing about things he might do while presenting them as things they know he will do.

At the time, some people praised the production values as a higher class of political polemic, however there are many instances of bad audio, poor looping and sometimes no mics being used at all. The issues are constant enough to cast doubt in one bit where the filmmakers appear to be acting slyly. The clip features the president at some manner of a town hall. He is fumbling with his words, stopping and starting, starting and stopping. At the end of the clip, he tells the crowd he is happy they are fired up, but he needs to finish what he is saying. Of course, you only hear audio from his microphone with no sound heard from the crowd even though the president references it. Are they trying to make him look bad for starting and restarting when not using a teleprompter? Or is it that the editor is so inexperienced he didn’t know you are supposed to add in natural sound? Maybe the confusion about it is intentional.

I was a bit baffled as D’Souza hammered George Obama because he wasn’t angry that he hadn’t suddenly become wealthy and powerful because of his relationship with the president. It’s as if D’Souza is upset that nepotism didn’t run rampant. Is he suggesting that if he were elected that it would?

Ultimately, it wasn’t worth the four year wait to see the film, although I am glad waiting saved me from seeing it for a few years.

A Qualitative World

When I think about quantitative analytics, I think of The Matrix. In The Matrix, the world most people experience is purely a computer construct, one of ones and zeros spelling out a universe in binary. Keanu Reeves’ Neo is offered the choice between the red pill and the blue pill, the choice of living in an all digital reality where everything can be analyzed and shaped or an analog world where things can vary. In that first movie, everything is changed by his awakening, perhaps even the universe itself.

In quantitative analysis, it’s all about the numbers. Sampling size is key, but after a population reaches a certain size, there’s little chance of having the result change, so why bother asking, right? The first time an alarm was raised for me was as an undergrad sitting in a media class learning about the Neilsen ratings system. While there were more than 300 million people in the United States, they sampled a few hundred. Those few hundred told networks how much money they could make and what programming to pursue. Why? Because to sample any more than that would be a waste.

Skip to the mid-2000s. Neilsen switches to people meters from diaries and suddenly shows and networks watched by city dwellers and minorities suddenly drops overnight. The diary system had TV viewers write what they watched in increments over an hour. They were supposed to note if they changed the channel, when and if they stayed with the new program. People meters automated that data collecting. They were initially introduced in New York City and from the first day, programming featuring minorities plummeted in the ratings. It was serious enough that lawmakers took notice.

How could that happen? New York City has eight million people. They were replacing 400 diaries. Did they give people meters to the same people who had diaries? Where the people being replaced competent? How did they choose new families? As a purely “opt in” system, did they enroll people via letter or telephone call? If it was telephone, was it landline or mobile? To whittle 300 million people to a few hundred, you have to cut a lot of corners and make many broad generalizations.

Today advertisers and networks are learning much more about how people relate to television. They know we engage separate media simultaneously. We post on Facebook and Twitter while we watch. That alone has moved networks out of a purely quantitative understanding of their programming. Now you can see the next day how your program reached its audience by a simple hashtag search. This is a good thing. I do agree that individual focus groups in many different areas is an expensive proposition, perhaps prohibitively expensive even. But these new technologies help us understand much more.

Other technologies are coming. Would a modern teenager download an app for their Google Glass that measured how long they looked at the outfits worn my actors on the latest MTV program? Would you do the same for shows you watch? What if you were paid an Amazon gift card for your efforts? The improved data would be incredibly valuable. The payoff to you would be tiny depending on how much data you were willing to share.

I think we are on the cusp of things changing. Facebook has been losing young people lately. I could see them revitalized if they shared their ad revenue with the people whose friends they are ad bombing. If you were 16 with hundreds of friends, would you take $50 a month for giving Facebook extra access to your followers? I think the first company to offer this will not only gain access to a treasure trove of marketing data, but create a new, fairer, more qualitative world for advertising.