Monday, December 3, 2012

SaGa II Review

Game Boy title SaGa 2, released to the U.S. as Final Fantasy Legend II, combines a simple, sequential plot with surprisingly addictive gameplay mechanics.

The Story

Your father has been away on a journey for years, so you and three friends leave home to find out what's become of him and his quest to gather MAGI, pieces of the statue that forms the fabled goddess Isis.

Your journey consists of traveling from one world to the next, gathering MAGI, and defeating the hostile god of that world. Most worlds have few details and are relevant to the story only once or twice. Aesthetically, the geography looks cheap and slapped-together compared to the lovingly-formed contours of, say, Dragon Quest I's Alefgard.

The four player characters say very little, and so don't have much character development. The enemy gods have distinct personalities, and one in particular has a hand in multiple worlds. In some worlds you'll help people along the way and see their stories play out, but the character who ties everything together is your dad: learning about his journey, and getting the chance to fight alongside him.

The Gameplay

The versatile mechanics of character stat progression and weapon types make this game stand out; they're the reason that SaGa 2 is among my most-played Game Boy titles.

Player characters are chosen from four races: human, mutant, robot, and monster. The race determines how the character progresses, not in a predetermined path, but on an open framework of progression.

Nearly everything used in battle has a charge consumed on use, and so must be either recharged or replaced. This makes resource management vital. Weapons and items are scarcely explained in game. A weapon might seem useless at first compared to things of similar cost, and yet be powerful if applied correctly. I recommend keeping a guide or search engine handy to look things up if you're not sure.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ruby on Rails Docs Done Right

The official Ruby on Rails API site uses the same tri-frame layout employed in the Java API site, except that the Java site's show-classes-by-package feature doesn't apply. The way to search either of these is to use your browser's "find" feature (ctrl+F). I find this setup rather irksome.

Fortunately, Vladimir Kolesnikov has brought us, a searchable Rails API site. It's available to use online or to download and use offline. The search returns matches by relevance and picks up on inexact matches.  Below are links to the online API.

Rails version 3:

Rails version 2:

Thanks, Vlad!

EDIT (Feb 2015): is no longer up. But the official Ruby on Rails API site now boasts a clean design with highly responsive search. See it here:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dragon Warrior Monsters II Hint: Small Cave in Sky World

In the cave south of Hitano in Sky World, the hole near the entrance is "too small to fit some heads." So how do you know what kinds of monsters are small enough to fit? The library in GreatLog can help you. When you look up a species, you'll see its skills, descriptions, rarity, etc.... and also its size. So to fit through the hole, just make sure that your entire party, including the monster master, are size S.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Why So Few Women in Computer Science?

I've previously posted on why computer science makes a great major for women. Given the advantages, why don't more college-going women look into it?

A blog post by Dr. K considers the possibility, as brought up by Dr. Margaret Burnett, that the abrasive metaphors found in computing (e.g. "killing" a program, "zombie" processes) may turn girls off of computer science. That's one I've never heard before. As a tomboy child flanked by brothers, growing up in a Dungeons and Dragons household, I don't consider myself a good judge of this hypothesis.

A comment on the post points to the unattractive "nerdy" stereotype associated with computer experts. I think this a more likely deterrent: even brainy girls tend to have a bit too much vanity (at least on the basic personal hygiene level) to want anything to do with that image. But if the "geek chic" trend keeps up, that image problem could be solved any year now.

As for the terminology, I think the problem isn't that girls find the computer nerds' jargon disgusting; it's that they find it alien and intimidating. You see, they generally haven't been brought up speaking the language.

According to my observations, a lot of nerds first gained computer expertise years before they and their classmates could take high school programming classes. They got it during middle school years while hanging out with their computer nerd friends, programming games on their home-built computers in an atmosphere of male bonding. I played video games with my brothers quite a bit when I was a kid, but when my older brother invited his buddies over and they learned QBasic together, I didn't feel like I belonged there. So I didn't learn programming until I stumbled upon a C++ tutorial years later.

A lot of the guys who end up studying computer science in college come from the nerd-male-bonding background I've described. They spout all sorts of jargon that I, the n00b programmer that I was when I entered college, had scarcely heard. I understood logic and math, and I was ready to learn, so I wouldn't say I had a real academic disadvantage. But the social climate had me feeling left behind sometimes. Many of us girls have the smarts that it takes, but as freshmen most of us aren't gutsy enough to stick with a potential interest if we don't have a network of support. That's something I think is missing for young women who might otherwise consider C.S.

What discussion have you seen on why there are so few women in computer science? What do you think of it, and how can we make the field more welcoming?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Today I Stalked Myself

Today as I was reading up on Internet safety, I got to thinking, how vulnerable am I? I've shared some information on the Web; I feel no need to hide my blog posts and comments. But I don't want someone going to my hometown address and harassing my parents, nor do I want companies stuffing their mailbox with junk mail. So I stalked myself. I'm pleased to report that my full home address can't be found on my social networking sites or anywhere else on the public web, and I've eliminated one reference to my neighborhood within my hometown.

Do you have anything online open to public view that you wouldn't want a stranger to see? I encourage you to stalk yourself, before someone else stalks you. Try this with your kids, too, and teach them about Internet safety.