Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lists dovetailing into other lists: comics, phones, Cranium

Number of comics in the good-old-fashioned dead-tree newspaper here in Cleveland today that are about trying to party on new year's but going to sleep early: 6.

What does that tell us?
- dead-tree comic writers are old
- their comics are really really really not funny ever
- they are so out of ideas
- newspapers are truly on their way out
- oh my god traditional comics are so bad (Get Fuzzy and maybe Frazz excepted)
- quit reading newspapers, get on the internet, and by the way get an Android phone; it is now better than the iphone*
BUT ALSO
- you should do what you want on New Year's; partying for the sake of partying is just as lame as buying christmas presents for the sake of buying christmas presents.

* so I've got an Android phone now. And I like it better than the iphone. I'm biased because I work for Google and the open Android Market is better ideologically than the apple-approved App Store. But in case those reasons do not convince you:
- the hardware is just as good as the iphone's
- driving directions is maybe the killer app; it is literally a Garmin
- haptic response (it shakes a little when you press a button)
- voice-powered everything
- i've already found a game I'm hooked onto (Robo Defense)
I think the tides are turning, and these are the first days that android > iphone. As more developers make more android apps, this will only get better. New phone? Make it an Android.

And speaking of games, I will list reasons that Cranium is not a good board game:
- most of the time is waiting. You sit out half the time or more (when it's not your turn). This is the good ol' American Risk-Monopoly-Clue model, and as we all know, it quite sucks.
- even in the time that is not waiting, you spend a lot of time reading instructions. 4 colors times 4 types of card per color = 16 games to learn. Even if you know them, other people don't, so you must explain them all. Compare that to Pictionary, where you pull a card and you know what to do immediately.
- the roll-and-move structure is flawed. You feel screwed by a random god when someone rolls a purple and jumps you.
- the inner-track-outer-track is terribly flawed! Given that you win the card, say, 80% of the time, what other game gives you such an easy way to lose big instantly? Miss your first question on the first brain, get on the outer track, and well I guess maybe you might win the next game. (I've heard that later Cranium editions have skipped the outer track, so I guess they've fixed this one.)
- the brain-in-the-center win condition feels like molasses. Oh hey I got all the way around, I'm going to win! ... in four turns, maybe. Bleh!
- as I've mentioned, you win the card 80% of the time. So when you lose it, it feels really bad. And some cards are orders of magnitude harder than others, so sometimes you will randomly lose.
- Charades and Pictionary are roughly equivalent games. Trivial pursuit is not; figuring out the answer to a question is less fun than acting a charade. "Word worm" is also not. Spelling bee? Really? Are you saying it's as much fun for a team to pick one person to spell a word, as it is to draw and guess a Pictionary?
- the cards are dated, already. I am 23 years old. If a game is going to come in hip flashy colors, but still have songs and actors from before I was born, that is a flaw. Thrice in the last game with me, my sister, my mom, and my uncle, we had to skip a card because it was too old. Are families supposed to play this? How will the kids have a chance?
- the clay goes stale. Don't make a perishable game. Didn't we learn from The Grape Escape?
- finally, it takes a long time.

Boy, I did not think I could actually come up with this many reasons. Err, have fun playing Cranium at your New Year's parties tonight! (for the record, if you're looking for better games: Catch Phrase, Time's Up/Identity Crisis, uhh Pictionary or Charades, and if you like word games then Bananagrams or of course Boggle.)

2 comments:

Dave said...

You forgot to mention that only 2 of the categories have club craniums, hurting teams (like your mom and sister) that like to pick those categories when they're on the brain and help those like us that like the other two...

kevinmahoney28 said...

Hey, I would like to be able to search google easier. And I like googles search engine a lot better than yahoo. After I get a search results page, either I am going to click on a link or go to the next page. It gets old having to navigate my mouse down to the tiny buttons at the bottom of the screen to go to the next page. I was wondering if it was possible to make the whole white part of the screen a button to go to the next page. A huge invisible button. It would have to be a double clicker, because the first thing that I do is click on the white space to use the side scroller on my laptop. This would greatly help everyone zip along and click on more Google adds. I am not trying to get any money out of this, I am in the Army and not allowed to. But, I got a few other ideas...