Religion in Medieval 2

I finally finished my epic campaign as England in Medieval 2. Boy, did that take longer than I expected. The next game on my play queue is the Enhanced Edition of The Witcher. Since it might take a while for me to get to writing a full review of Medieval 2, here’s a screenshot of it showing my English pope who is secretly female!

Religion plays a fairly big role in the game. The nations are divided into three different religions: Catholic, Orthodox and Islamic. In addition, there are heretics and pagans, both of which are bad from a gameplay perspective. Basically, if you play a Catholic faction and attempt to conquer a region that isn’t Catholic, you’re going to have huge Public Order issues. Heretics are particularly bad in that even a very small percentage of them in a given population will cause tons of unhappiness all around. In order to get around this, you need to recruit and send priests (or imams in the case of the Islamic nations) to the regions that you intend to conquer and convert their population to your own religion. Here’s a picture of my God squad busy turning the Middle East from 100% Muslim to 100% Catholic.

Catholic factions (including England, since King Henry VIII only broke ties with Rome in 1534 and the game takes place from roughly the 12th to 15th century) are also hampered in their plans of conquest by the Pope who hates it when Catholic factions fight each other. If you annoy him too much, he might excommunicate your faction, which really makes your people mad. Fortunately, he can be bribed with money and lands. He also likes it when you build lots of cathedrals all over the map. Orthodox and Islamic nations don’t have the equivalent of a Pope so they can freely fight whomever they want. A new Pope is chosen whenever the old one dies by the College of Cardinals, which is essentially made up of the Catholic priests with the highest piety scores. Since priests can get the “Secretly Female” trait randomly when recruited, getting her to become Pope was a simply a matter of levelling up her piety by converting lots of heathens to Catholicism.

Catholic nations can also ask the Pope to call for a Crusade while Islamic nations can call for a Jihad whenever they want. They work the same way in that they target a specific city owned by an enemy religion, allowing the formation of special Crusader / Jihadist armies to have formed to conquer that city. These armies benefit from special bonuses including greater movement speed on the strategic map, being free from upkeep costs and being able to recruit special reinforcement units while in the field. The caveat however is that they need to make progress towards the targeted city every turn or units will begin to desert from the army.

Solomon Islands Riots Photos

I finally got around to uploading the photos that I have of the riots in the Solomon Islands in 2006, as previously promised. I didn’t have a camera handy during the 2000 riots, which was a real shame, since groups of guys toting huge guns all over Honiara would have made for more spectacular sights, and even in 2006, I wasn’t about to take any silly risks, so these are really just photos of the aftermath. You can get much better photos of the whole thing from the BBC. I also won’t really go into the specific details of the political situation since that’s been covered by much better writers than myself.

The riots in 2006 happened after general elections that eventually put Snyder Rini into the Prime Minister’s seat. Mr. Rini had a rather unsavoury reputation, particular after his earlier stint as Finance Minister, so the word on the street was that as Prime Minister, he would be susceptible to bribes from the Chinese businessmen active locally. Or more susceptible that the norm in the Solomon Islands. Anyway, a crowd had been gathering near Parliament House to hear who would be the new Prime Minister, and when they heard that it would be Snyder Rini, they turned nasty and after being turned away by the Australian-led and supported police, descended onto the nearby Chinatown.

Continue reading Solomon Islands Riots Photos

Obama Ads in Game?

In-game advertising are nothing new now. In fact, my very first experience with MMO games was with Anarchy Online’s Free Play program in 2004. It was one of the first experiments of this type and offered free accounts in exchange for being shown advertisement posters and billboards in the game. However, this is the first time that I’ve heard of a political campaign buying advertisements in a game, in this case, the console racing game Burnout Paradise.

As the site notes, it’s not sure whether this is legitimate yet and may simply be a case of good photoshopping skills. But if it is true, it speaks volumes of Senator Obama’s savvyness. He’s also bought a half-hour of network primetime to speak directly to U.S. audiences on the 29th October. What’s surprising is that I think a lot of Americans are going to tune in to listen to him. When is Malaysia going to get a politician this cool?

Financial Meltdown

This is as good a time as any to post a link to Sad Guys on Trading Floors, a photo collection of traders’ reactions to the continuing financial meltdown. The U.S. Federal Reserve just dropped the federal funds rate by 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent, while central banks around the world followed suit, and the markets still dropped. The U.S. Treasury stated that it might have to take ownership of U.S. banks and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has just announced a proposal for yet another stimulus package worth US$150 billion to be spent in a Keynesian attempt to jump start the American economy. All of that is just today’s news.

Remember how AIG was bailed out by the U.S. government to the tune of US$85 billion just a couple of weeks ago and needed another US$37.8 billion yesterday? A report today details a week long “conference” organized by the world’s largest insurer for its top agents at a five-star resort in California costing more than US$400,000.00 just a few days after the first bailout. As the saying goes, we live in interesting times.

Continue reading Financial Meltdown

Purging of the English Language

Check out this list of English words that the editors of the Collins English Dictionary wants to purge to make room for new words and the accompanying article. As it notes, some words that are common in mainstream usage are nonetheless useful in particular communities. As a gamer, I’ve collected my fair share of Periapts of Wisdoms across many different Dungeons & Dragons-based computer games, so I should know!

Then again, while it’s understandable that a dead tree version dictionary wants to drop words because you can only fit in so many in a single volume and still have it at a manageable size, in the Internet age that we live in, these words will never truly be gone. Furthermore by singling out these particular words, the editors have simply given them a short-lived notoriety that will effectively grant them a new lease on life.

Game Grub

Spotted this on the Quartertothree forums. Gamer Grub, performance snack food for gamers! Available in four flavours (“Action Pizza”, “Strategy Chocolate”, “Racing Wasabi” and “Sports PB&J”) and laced with special health supplements designed to make gamers better at playing games! All that, and be edible without forcing the player to stop playing too! Ok, all of that is bunch of crock but at least the manufacturer’s website lists all the talking points with a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humour.

This is nothing more than a novelty gag item, but give the creator props for daring to try something so wacky!

Racism and Nationalism in Medieval 2

I’ve been playing Medieval 2 Total War for a while now. I’d passed on it when it was first released in late 2006 and only bought the Gold edition including the Kingdoms expansion earlier this year. Easily the most popular choice of nation when playing the Medieval games is England, partly due to a combination of cultural familiarity, its easily defensible starting location and the excellence of English longbowmen. I tried my first game with the Venetians who start out with a great navy but whose provinces are actually separated from one another but couldn’t make much progress. Venetians get hemmed in too much by their Italian cousins, the Milanese and the Sicilians, as well as the powerful Holy Roman Empire to the northwest and the Byzantine Empire to the east, so I ended up having to restart my game as the English in which I’m handily conquering the whole map.

One of my favourite things about this new version of Medieval are the pre-battle speeches that your generals make. The speeches made their debut in Creative Assembly’s previous game Rome Total War, but they’ve been greatly expanded here. Each major nation now has a different way of insulting each other and the personality traits of the general making the speech also influences what gets said. Check out the YouTube video I linked to for a great selection of these speeches. Playing as the English, my generals have called the French wine-sodden and arrogant, the Germans pox-ridden, the Sicilians sons of Satan and the Danish “scrofulous”, whatever that means. It’s awesome and doubly hilarious when a drunken or even outright insane general spouts off some utterly nonsensical stuff.

On a vaguely related note, here’s an Ebay listing for what must be the coolest auction ever. For the princely sum of least twenty five thousand British pounds, you can own a full size replica of a Roman siege catapult. It was built for a television show and now doesn’t fire, but it would be the perfect lawn ornament if you happen to live in a castle!

The unexamined life is a life not worth living