Isqua Istari

The Wise Wizards

Civilizations, Barbarians, and City States

Posted in Articles by Toad Sunday September 17, 2017 at 21:19


Ever played the Civilization series? Maybe Endless Legend? If not, these are both examples of what are often called “4X Games“: they’re turn-based strategy games focused on “exploration, expansion, exploitation, and extermination”. This sort of game can also be called an “empire building” game, and the general premise is that the player is an external guide for a people group of some description that usually fits with the modern idea of a nation. Typical examples of this game will be played on a more-or-less 2D map, feature some sort of development mechanic (usually in the form of one or more research trees designed to model scientific progress), and a unit-based movement mechanic that usually comprises both combat and exploration. Units can generally build cities and destroy cities and other units. Cities build more units, and can improve themselves and (by some mechanic or another) improve (“exploit”) the land around them. In these games, the player seeks victory through one or more forms of dominance: the classic victory condition is total military conquest, but over the years more options have been added, ranging from scientific victories (where the player’s nation is the first to achieve some developmental milestone) to diplomatic victories (where the player is essentially elected “king of the world”) and more.

Perhaps the most recognizable example of this sort of game is the Civilization series. Started by Sid Meier at Microprose back in 1991, the Civilization games have long set a standard of quality in the genre and are commonly emulated, cloned, and adapted. (more…)

Toad(icus)’ List of Awesome KSP Mods

Posted in Other by Toad Thursday October 16, 2014 at 18:02

I play KSP.  I also write mods for KSP.  I further think that my opinions are generally super good ones.  So, I present to you my list of awesome KSP mods, along with justification for why I think they’re worth downloading.  Why am I putting it on this blog?  So that I can keep track of it, and revise it when my thoughts change, and so that you, if you wish it, may benefit.


Delayed Laborfication

Posted in Articles by Toad Thursday July 10, 2014 at 15:37

As a bit of preamble: I’m not entirely sure what I intended this post to be, or quite how it wound up.  I suppose it’s probably something of a confessional or a testimonial, at this point; maybe a reflection upon the history of my work ethic.  Whatever else it is or isn’t, I hope it’s useful to you.

For a long time, I thought I had what people sometimes call “an addictive personality”.  And, maybe there’s some truth to it, but I think there’s a lot more truth elsewhere.  The “addictive personality” article on Wikipedia describes ”addictive personality” as “a psychological setback that makes a person more susceptible to addictions.”  That’s a pretty broad description, but for a long time, I figured that’s what was going on with me.  In college, I played MMORPGs at the expense of my grades.  First I played Dark Age of Camelot, then I played World of Warcraft, and at the end of five years I still wound up one course shy of an actual degree.  Looking back on that, I had a lot of reasons for wanting to slow down the effort I had been pouring into educational endeavors and I do think some of them remain valid, but in general I was just glad for an opportunity to be lazy, and those games gave me some pleasure that was lacking elsewhere.


Personal Programming History of the Toad Kind

Posted in Other by Toad Wednesday June 25, 2014 at 10:55

After publishing his own personal programming history, Ziggy asked if I might like to write my own.  Since I don’t do a lot of writing, was referred to in the article, and mostly since he asked me to do so, I decided to go ahead and see what I could remember.

The first action similar to “computer programming” that I can remember is assisting my dad (a career computer programmer and information systems developer) in programming runs of EPROM integrated controllers for trackballs that he was developing as a side business.  It wasn’t actually programming at all: my job was to plug in a chip, press the “up” arrow twice in a terminal emulator and run the command from history to erase it, press the “up” arrow twice more and run the command to write the firmware to the chip, unplug the chip, drop it in a chip tube, and repeat.  I feel like I probably did hundreds of them (in fact, it was probably only dozens), and I loved every minute of the monotony, just because it got me closer to “working” on a computer.


Even More Anti-Spam, Or “Boston Sucks”

Posted in Other by Toad Monday February 5, 2007 at 17:43

Since the hashcash addon didn’t seem to be very effective, I sat down and beat Captcha! into submission. It should now ask posters to enter a code from an image before commenting.

In other news, the City of Boston has succeeded in getting two million dollars from Turner Broadcasting Systems, after mistaking stripped down Lite-Brite toys emblazoned with a character from “Aqua-Teen Hunger Force,” a late-night adult show, for bombs, and placing the whole city on an elevated alert. Maybe I’m just a terrible person who loves terrorists, but I’m pretty sure that, even if the show isn’t that great, and the marketing stunt was underhanded, no one owes Boston anything for going on terror alert because a cartoon flipped them the bird.

New Anti-Spam Measures

Posted in Other by Toad Wednesday January 31, 2007 at 17:15

So, I’ve installed a new anti-spam plugin on the blog. It should be completely transparent to the end-user, unless you aren’t using a java-script enabled browser, in which case it will tell you why you can’t post, but since just about everyone has java these days, I’m not guessing too many will run in to that.

Let me know if you run into any problems!

War for Extremism

Posted in Other by Toad Thursday August 17, 2006 at 16:55

Most of you probably know that the “global war on terror” is also called the “global war on extremism.” In addition, Condoleeza Rice mentioned in her talks in Lebanon not long ago that she was seeking a way to ensure that the Lebanese could “defend themselves against extremism.” This makes me wonder… what’s so wrong with extremism?

In general, I do not consider myself an “extreme” person. I take the Scriptures and common sayings about “moderation in all things” to heart. (more…)

Picket Funeral

Posted in Articles by Toad Thursday May 25, 2006 at 11:04

I am anti-gay. I am a Christian. I believe that God punishes people, organizations, and countries, for their actions and the actions of their consitutuents.

I am not, however, an inconsiderate moron (well, not most of the time). This article (rightfully) villifies someone who shares the beliefs I listed above, but who fails to pass the “not an inconsiderate moron” test. I agree with Reverend Phelps that homosexuality is wrong, and I agree that it is a possibility (though by no means a surety) that long wars of attrition and acts of terrorism against our country are a punishment for that and myriad other sins committed by our nation, but picketing a funeral–ANY funeral–is a sure way not to get your point across. As a point of fact, it is a sure way to get the entire world, saved and unsaved, to think you’re a rotten person with no regard (read: love) for the people to whom God wants you to minister. I’ll be the first one one to tell you that I have no great love for people in general, saved or otherwise, but Rev. Phelps’ actions, in my opinion, step outside any form of decency.

People like Mr. Phelps give the body of Christ a bad name. I can’t put down zealoutry, but I can put down what is nearly barbarism, and not only ineffective “ministry,” but a performance that is clearly detrimental to the cause Rev. Phelps professes to be promoting.


Posted in Other by Toad Monday May 22, 2006 at 14:53

That’s right, there is now a free soft drink, OpenCola, licensed under the GNU General Public License. It’s not just Linux anymore.

What with my excursions into the land of open source operating systems and software of late, I’ve been developing a great respect for open source products in general, and especially software. While I’m not about to project the “everyone helps” methodology into societal models, projects like the many Linux distributions, Wikipedia (and its many derivates), and even OpenCola do seem to foster a very giving attitude by all involved, which is a refreshing look at a side of persons that is almost impossible to find elsewhere.

Now, does anyone know where I can find some gum arabic?

Flagrant Nerdery

Posted in Other by Toad Sunday May 7, 2006 at 22:46

Because my wife and I are big nerds, we’ve started a family blog for you and yours to check up on us every now and again. If you’re in to that sort of thing, check it out!

*edit: link fixed*

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