BC goes into public beta!

“Bloodsport Colosseum”:http://www.bloodsportcolosseum.com was just announced to be in public beta! The official description of the game:

Bloodsport Colosseum is a gladiator sim like no other! Set in the future, fights take place in a retro-style colosseum where the only weapons allowed are those used by ancient gladiators. So how can you be sure it’s set in the future? You CAN’T!

Hire a team of gladiators, train them, equip them, and set up their daily fights. Challenge other gladiators directly while waiting for the daily fights to happen! Choose their riskiness, which has a direct impact on their longevity, short-term survival, experience and skill gains, and money gained from the arenas. Put them into the one-on-one arenas or the enormous free-for-all arenas. Laugh when they slowly wear themselves down, as battle scarring from fight after fight turns once-unstoppable champions into blubbering babies. Fire those who are no longer useful, and bring in fresh blood.

As you gain fame and fortune, new opportunities will show themselves, allowing better equipment purchases and more powerful gladiators to hire.

Bloodsport Colosseum Updates

Notice the new spelling of “colosseum”. Some nerd-bullies at my work made me change the spelling because “coliseum” is a rather obscure way to spell it. In the next update, the whole game will be spelled that way.

On a lighter note, last week was huge – over 12 hours of work on BC, the most I’ve ever done in a single week. I’ve registered several new domains to get prepped for the open beta, I’m looking into several different hosts for the game (I loved Dreamhost for a long time, but lately service has been just crap), and I’ve gotten a ton of documentation out of the way.

However, I still have at least two weeks of work left, and in all reality that’ll probably turn into four. Lately I’ve been putting my bug-finding goggles on while I do work, and have noticed tons of new bugs. I would have allowed these in the closed beta, but in an open beta I consider them to be unacceptable. Last week’s twelve hours of work moved me from 15 hours left down to 10 hours left, so … yeah. Lots of little bugs I keep finding.

Oh yeah, and feature creep. Evil thing, that.

New Bloodsport Coliseum update!

This has been a long time coming, but finally a really big change to the game is up. A huge amount of stuff was added, changed, and fixed.

I expect this to be the last major update before I go beta! Woohoo!! The “changelog”:http://bc.nerdbucket.com/help/changelog is always the best place to find details about major updates, but here’s a quick rundown of the most interesting new features. * Instant challenges are in! Players can run an instant challenge against one another and gain small amounts of xp and skills, plus loot each other’s credits (very small amount – I’m not a fan of major losses from random PvP)! * Danger level and multifight points for extra fun! ** The concept of multifight points is pretty simple – arenas that have multiple gladiators will give points to the highest finishers. Better placement, more points. These points are mostly a status symbol, though you will need a few to get to the heavyweight division. ** The “Danger Level” concept is a bit tougher to explain, but I’ll try anyway… when your gladiator’s risk is chosen, it affects how fast he deteriorates (battle scarring) as well as how likely he is to die if he loses a match. Danger Level is something of a tracking system to see how dangerous a gladiator has been recently. Fight dangerously, and it goes up. Be safe and it goes down. Higher levels grant extra money at the end of fights in which death is a possibility. In addition, getting to the heavyweight division will require a certain danger level, so all players will have to eventually live dangerously. Just my way of giving you, my loyal player, the finger. :P (Actually I think it makes the game more interesting, but some people will probably not see it that way, so oh well.) * General UI improvements – more feedback for potentially confusing things, email reports for battles, and other little things.

Insomnia

I seem to suffer from some rarely-heard-of form of insomnia in which I generally sleep well, but sometimes can’t fall asleep for hours. And when I fall asleep, I usually sleep well, but only if I don’t go to sleep too early.

Tonight I fell asleep putting Alex (my son) to bed, and that was around 8pm. I woke up just before 1am, and haven’t been able to sleep since then.

The worst part of this almost nonexistent disorder is that sleeping medication doesn’t work either… I tried some of that hardcore stuff you need a prescription for (Ambien or Lunesta, can’t recall which). That stuff seems like it would be great if one feels that he isn’t bumping into walls or falling on his ass often enough – it’s definitely got the “impair motor functions” bit down pat. But it just didn’t make me sleep any better than normal.

Why is that the worst part, you ask? Well, simple. For a sleep disorder that strikes randomly, there would be little fear of growing dependent on (or even gaining a tolerance to) the sleep meds. So in my situation, they ought to be a fracking lifesaver!

On the plus side, this means I have a bit of extra time to work on Bloodsport Coliseum before I stop being able to function for the day!

h6. Yes, I said “fracking”. I have heard rumor that kids as young as 10 hit my blog (in fact I think they’re my main demographic), and as much as I like to corrupt minors, I prefer to do it in more interesting ways. So expect more Battlestar Galactica swearing over Real World swearing from now on.

More poker…

Guess I forgot the point of my poker post. I wanted to brag it up that I took 14th place in a $5.50 tournament in which 850+ people entered. I was all proud. Now that I’m getting beat left and right, this message doesn’t make me feel as superior as it was supposed to.

Bloodsport Coliseum: No more challenges :(

h3. My apologies, but challenges were a waste of time.

I’m sorry to say that the idea of challenges is going to have to be removed. Well, more like changed beyond any recognition. I still like my idea, but it turned into more of a system where either it was easily abused (two friends constantly challenge each other, gaining tons of XP), or it was limited and boring (limited number of challenges per day, no XP gains, or a combination of the two). In the end, I realized I’d spent almost two weeks on this system which I’d built solely to make it a real challenge to get to the heavyweight division!

Then it struck me – instead of inventing gameplay mechanics that were cumbersome and potentially game-breaking, why not just use the mechanics I already have? Here’s what I mean: you currently have a system for choosing how risky your gladiator is going to be. High risk means a real chance of death if you lose. Low risk means less chance, or no chance at all. High risk means more scarring. Low risk means less XP and skill gains. So we have risk, and I want heavyweight gladiators to have “proven” themselves by fighting a dangerous battle (the original plan was that they needed to be involved in at least one deathmatch battle). So why not just require a certain level of “danger” before they can move up to heavyweight?

h3. Danger Level Overview

Here’s the general idea: a gladiator’s DL (Danger Level) will start at 0 and move depending on his risk. A higher risk will move up relatively fast, while a lower risk will move up slower, or maybe even move down. Obviously it can’t go below 0, and there will be some upper limit as well. A gladiator with a high DL will actually gain money faster, because the public likes him — he’s proven to be both dangerous and a winner (high danger + losing means death, remember), so there will be incentive to put your life on the line.

Additionally, a heavyweight will require a certain DL. Probably not terribly high, as I don’t want people to feel like they have to risk death all the time in order to get to heavyweight, but high enough that at least one very risky battle has to take place, or else a few low-risk (but not safe) battles.

The real catch here is that you can’t just be risky with a new gladiator and then go ultra-safe, having set him up for heavyweight! Since DL changes each time fights are run, a safe gladiator will go back down to 0 fairly fast. The boost is very temporary, so to get to heavyweight, you’ll have to be unsafe with a strong gladiator! That was exactly what I wanted originally, so this system is great. Plus the system works with all players, not just those willing to try and set up some wacky challenge.

h3. So what about challenges?

Challenges will exist, but in a totally different form. Like many webgames I’ve seen, it will be an instant challenge in which the challenger has the most to lose (since the challengee isn’t actually able to say ‘no’). The winner will take some amount of money from the loser (more if the winner is the challengee), and both gladiators can gain a small amount of XP. I’m not sure if I’ll do skill gains or not, but it’s not out of the question.

The main point of challenges will be something to pass the time, not a way to gain massive amounts of credits or XP. They’ll allow a fight with a gladiator of your choice, and give you minor rewards.

Much like other games, challenges will also have some kind of limit, probably one per day per gladiator or something.

h3. Still a ways out…

So yeah, after wasting two weeks of time, and running into new bugs before wasting all that time, the game is still about 10 weeks out. Just like it was four weeks ago :(

POKER!!

I’m a big fan of Poker. I freely admit that this is because of the “World Poker Tour”:http://www.worldpokertour.com. I mean, I always like the idea of poker, but I wasn’t exposed to Texas Hold ’em until the WPT popped up. And it wasn’t until I looked into Hold ’em that I realized the joys of 7-card stud and Omaha.

So a few years back I caught the WPT and laughed at how absurd it was to televise something as boring as poker. I mean, watching a bunch of people on TV playing cards! How lame is that?

Within about 10 minutes I was hooked. Go figure. For some reason I really can’t explain, I find it as tense as a good football game. I’ll never be one of those idiots who call poker a real sport, but it’s certainly more of a spectator “sport” than I would ever have guessed.

So anyway, I play on “Ultimate Bet”:http://www.ultimatebet.com right now. (No, that link isn’t an affiliate link or anything) I generally am not very good, so when I feel like wasting money on poker it’s usually because I need something to occupy my time, and I blow my money on the penny tables so I can have fun for a while before going broke.

UltimateBet is one of the smaller poker sites, with less than 20k people on during peak hours (Compare to PokerStars or PartyPoker at 50k+), but their support staff is very good: * I once had a problem they couldn’t figure out (‘#’ couldn’t be part of a password, so my password kept getting randomly reset) and they gave me 500 “Ultimate Points”. These points are worth about $1 per 250, so it was nothing incredible, but it was definitely a nice gesture. * A few weeks ago I went to take advantage of their 100% deposit bonus, but my card was declined (some banks consider “gaming” purchases to be unacceptable). Within minutes, a rep called me and told me how to use “NETeller”:http://www.neteller.com to do an instant payment. But what’s more, UltimateBet covered the normal fee (usually 8.9% I think) so I could get the money to them ASAP.

Obviously a big poker site can afford to do these sorts of things, but when I played on other big sites, I was never given any kind of personal service like that. PokerStars may or may not cover the NETeller fee, but they certainly never mentioned it to me when I first used them. PartyPoker definitely doesn’t care about customer satisfaction. After having some kind of account problem with them, they responded to my support request with a FAQ that had nothing to do with my issue! For a poker site with so many people and so little rewards, I was amazed. They didn’t offer any kind of compensation, but that wasn’t nearly as big a problem to me as their unwillingness to even address my issue.


So for budding poker players out there, you’ll find far more variety of players on PokerStars and PartyPoker. But UltimateBet is far more customer-oriented.

Final Destination 3

I thought I should post something new before everybody who doesn’t give a fuck about research studies hits my blog and decides I’m too serious and I’m a prick whose wife cheats on me (which clearly explains why I waste hours researching other people’s flawed research).

First of all, Final Destination 3 spoilers will be found here. Do not read further if you don’t want the movie spoiled! It’s worth watching, in my opinion, so it’s best to watch without spoilization. I’ll warn before spoilers, of course, but at least be warned…


Where to begin. Like FD1 and FD2, it starts with a premonition about extremely painful and gruesome deaths. If that’s why you watch these movies, then 3 is definitely a must-see.

Unlike FD1, it doesn’t utterly suck balls. Unlike FD2, it has some surprises. But unfortunately, in my opinion, even though the general ideas are better than in either of the first two movies, the overall story is just more of the same and doesn’t make for a better movie. Worth seeing, but not better.

First major problem: there’s a death that’s foreseen that doesn’t make much sense (see below for a full spoiler). My wife pointed it out to me, and I can explain it, but it was a little weird for sure.

Second major problem: the extra feature for “choose their fate” or whatever. Very shitty feature. It had a ton of potential, and at one point appeared to really make a difference. But overall, the only difference you could make to the movie as a whole was ending it prematurely. Technically this might alter the outcome, but if you watch the full movie you won’t really know that the actual ending doesn’t happen. In other words, it doesn’t alter anything, it really does just end early!

Anyway, the movie was a lot like its predecessors, but I felt like it had more gore and at the same time more substance. The story was solid enough. The characters were fun. It was a good flick if you like this sort of movie. If you disliked FD1, try out FD2. If you like that more than 1, you will probably enjoy 3. 3 is definitely more of the same, but still well worth watching.


h1. SPOILERS

Main spoiler: the reason I thought this movie was really good was the ending.

STOP READING IF YOU DON’T WANT THE END SPOILED!!













The end of the movie kills everybody. But not just like in the first movie where it was really difficult to tell what happened. In this movie, our heroine got a second premonition before dying. Only, she got the premonition when it was already too late. It was incredibly cool. I am a huge fan of happy endings, so a non-happy ending has to be pretty good for me to like it. This was such an ending, in my opinion. Seeing the end happen, then finding out it’s a premonition, and then seeing that they can’t get the train to stop… that was classy. Very cool. This is why my Netflix rating was 4 stars instead of 3.

The death that didn’t make sense, mentioned above, was McKinley’s (dunno if that’s spelled right). He was supposed to kill our heroine, but he ends up dying instead. Now if this makes any sense, she should have avoided being killed by him and then, and only then, death would skip her, start back at the beginning, and kill him. Instead, she avoids a seemingly random death that actually ends up killing him.

I explain that as McKinley was supposed to kill her by keeping her attention while he talked to her. But because she dodged, death took him instead. But it’s still weird no matter how you slice it.

Second issue was the special “Choose their fate” bit on the DVD. I can’t lower my rating for the movie because of this, as it’s not part of the movie, but it was annoying. It looks like you can change one really major event in the movie – they actually save one of the other characters. But he’s never dealt with later in the movie when everybody else dies! I fully expected him on the train at the end! Totally lost style points when I saw that he was just avoided after I made the choice to save him.

Email/IM bad for communication?

I keep reading news articles about the inferior nature of email, instant messaging, web forums, and other forms of non-verbal communications. I have finally found the source of one of these articles and have found some very interesting details out.

The news article I’m referencing is “Your Emails Aren’t As Funny As You Think”:http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/?articleID=4787, which is based on the research in “Egocentrism over E-Mail”:http://www.gsb.uchicago.edu/fac/nicholas.epley/Krugeretal05.pdf. The research study is mentioned in various places throughout the internet, but I need to stay focused if I want to tear both the research and the article apart.

The general belief I’ve gotten from the research is that when you’re communicating verbally, you can read body language and hear tone and voice inflection to get a better idea of the true meaning of the message – sarcasm, annoyance, flirtiness, humor, etc. In email, for instance, there is no body language and no tone to be read.

h2. The flaws in the research study

I have found that the study has made some decent points, but seems to very specifically avoid certain aspects of email communication that would likely have helped show email in a better light.

First off, I’m not talking about study 5 here. This is a study where they took preselected Jack Handey quotes from Saturday Night Live to see how often people’s humor meshed with somebody else’s, when the message was shown in video vs. email. I’m just not sure the point of the study when the humor is not from the actual person. I don’t think anybody will question that humor is better spoken by a practiced comedian than sent in email by an anonymous stranger, so if that’s all they meant to prove, I think they wasted their time.

h3. Most of the studies relied on pre-written text

Studies 1, 2, and 4 had people deliver a certain sentence word for word. These were to be delivered in a certain tone: sarcastic, serious, angry joking, maybe a couple others. These sentences were not divulged (I think that without these sentences, it’s very difficult to determine the validity of the tests), so I can’t comment on how useful they may have been… but think about this: if the sentence is “Your mother is such a bitch for making you pay for your own car”, it’s totally ambiguous whether the speaker/emailer is being sarcastic if all you do is read the text. If I were trying to say that sarcastically, I would probably start off with “Oh yeah, your mother is just such a bitch…” and end with “God forbid….”. Maybe even laugh.

With vocal inflections, I can certainly make my meaning clearer no matter the full text I read. But in email, we rely on things like context to make a message’s intent more clear. Even in normal vocal conversation, we change our message to indicate a different tone, though it’s not nearly as necessary.

The problem I have with these three studies is that the email group of the studies wasn’t allowed to modify the message in any way. No bolding, italicizing, capitalization, smilies, or laughter (LOL, ROFL, hehe, etc) could be added. This, in my opinion, makes for very fallible results. Look at the next section for more details….

h3. Email and IM communications most certainly can have a tone.

As I just said: there are things like bolding text, italicising text, CAPITALIZING text, and using smilies (:D, :), =), ;), :-P, etc.) to get the point across about your intent. Read the following two sentences:

I think the direction our company is headed is absolutely correct, and I’m glad to be a part of it. I won’t be looking for a new job anytime soon.

I think the direction our company is headed is absolutely correct, and I’m GLAD to be a part of it. I won’t be looking for a new job anytime soon ;).

It’s not crystal clear, but the second sentence has a different tone than the first, and will give people a better chance of “getting” the real message (“I hate the direction we’re going, and I’ve already posted my resume to monster.com”).

Now consider that some email programs (and most forums and IM clients) even have graphic smilies for showing even more specific emotions. Add an eye-rolling smilie () to that prior message, and I doubt many people will mistake the tone.

The interesting thing to note here is that the study admits that smilies (referred to as “emoticons”) might help send the right tone, but they claim that won’t make much difference.

The way they “prove” this conclusion: * Some smilies are ambiguous, such as “;-)”. Is that a happy response? Flirty? A “just kidding” response? ** This is true, but the same is true of real life! If somebody says “I like that shirt” and winks, I won’t know if they’re being friendly-but-wierd, flirty, or just kidding. * A “follow-up” study was done that allowed emoticons, and found that overconfidence wasn’t affected between the emoticon-users and non-emoticon-users. ** Um… what emoticons were used? What tones were available? What size was the group? In other words, without showing specifics about that follow-up study, how can you use it to dispute emoticons? ** Along the same lines, what was found in that study? Overconfidence may not have changed between the groups, but did accuracy change? If accuracy went up, the level of overconfidence may well not have changed, but that would very nicely prove my point about email tone!

h3. Emailing strangers will lead to more misinterpreted messages than emailing friends or even coworkers.

Study 3 “proves” my above statement incorrect. But you see, here’s where I get into context again. Familiarity is all fine and dandy, but if users can’t bold, italicize, use smilies, or otherwise convey context, then you’re not testing their ability to communicate!

In email, if I’m sarcastic, I’ll add a smilie or “p’shaw, whatev” or something. In fact, to different people my sarcasm will be different. To a good friend, I can say “Oh dude that is totally so like awesome man! I’m so stoked about it, sign me up, brotha!” My friend will know I’m being sarcastic because I don’t normally IM/Email like that. My father, on the other hand, whom I speak to more formally, won’t know how to interpret that message.

Surrounding context is even more important in my opinion. Read on…

h3. The overall conversation’s context isn’t even evaluated!

Context is incredibly important. If I’m asked to convey anger in a single sentence, I don’t know how I’d do it in a reliable way, other than “I’m really angry” (and note that this too can be interpreted many ways depending on context). Measuring the results of effective communication based on a single sentence is simply measuring the wrong thing. They’re seeing how well people can convey an emotion in a single, context-free instance. They then use those results to claim that email is inferior to verbal communication, even though in normal communication, a huge amount of interpretation is based on the context of the conversation.

If my wife and I have been joking around and she suddenly says, “You’re such a jerk!” I’ll know she’s joking, even if her tone would suggest otherwise. The same sentence, spoken similarly, could mean anger, hurt, frustration, or nothing at all. All depending on the surrounding conversation.

h3. The study is flawed by the nature that the participants knew what was being studied!

This may be a controversial statement, but I believe it’s true. Let me explain. If I yell out “You ASSHOLE! I’ll kill you!” in the meanest voice I can muster, and your options for my tone are: angry, sad, sarcastic, or joking, you’ll probably pick angry. If you know me well enough, though, you’ll know that in real conversation, if I yell that out, I’m joking. So if you and I know we’re being tested for tone, I’ll speak the way I expect the average person will understand me, and not the way I would speak in a normal conversation. In fact, I’ll likely exaggerate my speech (sarcasm: “OOOOHHHHH I’M SOOOOOOOOOOOO EXCITED”) to “get the test right”.

In a normal conversation, my angry tone is barely different than my serious tone. I don’t yell; I rarely even swear (out of anger, at least). If you had to interpret a real tone from a real conversation, you would not have nearly as easy a time, and friends and family would have a huge advantage over strangers.

My point is that the experiment should have measured tone in a different way. The speakers/emailers could have been told to create a message as if it were to various family members or friends, for a specific scenario. After typing it up and speaking/emailing, they would have been asked to rate each the overall tone of the message. It could have been presented as some study in effective communication. The recipient of the message would be asked various questions, some related to the study, most not. How well did they get their point across? Was it too wordy? Too brief? Etcetera.

h3. The Implications section of the study is flawed

So we’ve got, in my opinion, some flawed results. The idea that we communicate in a way that is egocentric makes plenty of sense, but most of the other conclusions I’ve seen are, at the very least, misguided. But the final section blows me away.

The claim is that other forms of nonverbal communication are going to be as bad as, or worse than, email. They explicitly include instant messaging.

I’m convinced this study was done by people who view email as a necessary evil, and not by people who “get” it. Their conclusions would suggest this much, but this section really convinces me. Instant message programs like AIM, Yahoo, and MSN all have some very animated smilies for conveying tone. As shown above, the eyerolling animated icon can do wonders for a message. Now imagine dozens of these, all available in one or two clicks. For those of us who like to type, these animated emoticons are even easier to put in a message.

Look at the variety of emoticons in most IM programs and tell me you can’t effectively convey sad vs. angry vs. sarcastic vs. serious. Hell, I could run a study using Yahoo Messenger where people only get to use one icon to convey those four emotions, and guarantee better results than this study….

h2. Gripes about the news

The news article that references the study is flawed as well. The one I’ve referenced above draws conclusions that aren’t in the study – they go from the SNL Jack Handey jokes losing funniness in email to the conclusion that emails you don’t find funny are inherently flawed.

This sentence is just the beginning: “According to a recent study by a trio of business scholars, people think their emails are twice as funny as they really are.” The study is talking about going from a comedian reading of a very specific joke to a FLAT EMAIL. Jokes forwarded around the internet may not be funny to a lot of people, but they tend to circulate well because they’re the kind of humor that doesn’t need to be heard! Jack Handey quotes most definitely gain a lot from their reader.

What’s more, people rated a flat reading of certain jokes at a higher level than the recipients (for instance, I rate a certain quote at 7, but the person I send it to rates that one lower because they like a different one better), showing us that flat reading -> flat reading loses something! Study 5 (the one about humor and Jack Handey) taught us that people have vastly different tastes in humor. Any given person choosing the 5 funniest Jack Handey quotes, even in text-only form, will find that, on average, other people don’t find those 5 to be the funniest! WTF does that have to do with this news article’s conclusion?

Then this article specifically mentions “Photoshopped celeb pics” and “a hilarious clip of a napping cat” as problematic emails addressed by this study. But pictures don’t fall into the boundary of email communication problems! Again, WTF?!? When (and why) did the author think to jump from email communication problems to pictures that he doesn’t find funny? How the hell do those even relate?

Then he goes as far as to say the study is “a much-needed slap in the face to the forward-frenzied emailers out there”. Whereas the study drew a lot of incorrect conclusions, and tested the wrong data, it was at least paying attention to something, and did have a lot of research behind it. The author of this article, David Silverberg, apparently didn’t even READ the damn study! He probably heard about it, wanted to make himself look clever, and chose to revel in his complete ignorance rather than actually research the facts.

As much as I disliked the lack of proper scientific method in the study, this article (and others like it) makes me sick! How can we trust any journalists anymore, when so many of them just recycle other people’s data? And fuck if they can’t even do that right!

h2. Conclusions

Email is almost certainly inferior to verbal communication. But c’mon people, let’s measure the right data next time! And Mr. Silverberg, please try doing the tiniest iota of research before you write again. Might save you from coming across as an ignorant, lazy twit. Oh wait, too late for that….

Friday the 13th: the series!

Do you remember watching Friday the 13th on TV as a kid? Not the movies, the “TV show!”:http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0092357/ Of course not, nobody does! But all the same, I’ve just re-remembered it and thought I’d share with all my loyal readers! So mom & dad, here you go:

It was totally rad! Which is to say, it was a moderately interesting idea turned lame due to bad writing and acting. But all the same, I did like a lot of episodes. Then again, I was like 12 when it was on the air, so that doesn’t necessarily mean much. And if you think I’m a geek today, man, you should have seen me back then…

So here’s the basic idea – These three people have discovered that an evil family member (uncle to the two cousins, Ryan and Micki, and I’m not sure who he was to the old dude, Jack Marshak) has been selling cursed antiques. Generally speaking, any given item will give the user some kind of crazy special power for the price of killing somebody. There were lots of variations, but I remember most episodes being that way.

Part what made this show truly special was the absurdities of some of the plots: * Wheelchair episode ** Girl gets harassed by a bunch of guys, and apparently near-raped. ** She runs away and is hit by a car, paralyzed. ** She gets this magic wheelchair (s/magic/cursed), and is able to leave her body to get revenge on her aggressors. ** As she kills each person involved, she gains more mobility. Screw “The Scooter Store”:http://www.thescooterstore.com/! ** I think the moral of the story was that murder is bad, even if it happens to bad people. Or something. * Snow globe episode ** Satan captures our three heroes inside… a… snowglobe. WTF? ** He uses damned souls of their friends to lure them in, though I can’t recall exactly how that happens. ** One of the damned friends decides she can’t go through with the betrayal. So she somehow manages to help the trio get a car. ** They drive the car through the edge of the snowglobe, crashing out back to the real world again… ** Satan put them into a breakable container, and left a car there that was in running condition. I think this episode really showcased how stupid Satan really is. * Leather Jacket of Invisibility ** This one’s crazy-awesome – a cursed jacket turns the wearer invisible when they kill people and wipe the blood on the jacket! ** The main plot escapes me at the moment, but I remember they stopped the killer by faking a murder. That is, they let the killer stab one of the main characters, but the dude was wearing a fake pack of blood on his chest that stopped the knife while making him appear dead. This ploy somehow caught the killer offguard even though he was still holding the knife he used to kill people, and let the heroes stop him.

The other really great thing about the show was the intro. First, we get to hear what I recall as cool, creepy music. In all honesty, I was pretty geeky so the intro probably sucked… but we got to see a cymbal-playing monkey!

Then there was the cast. Three names (the three main characters of course), two of which I don’t remember (Ryan and Jack’s characters). Micki, I remember – she was billed simply as “Robey”. I always found that funny, and more so today, because she’s some nobody who really never made it big. Trying to make herself into one of those stars with just one name…. It’s just so pathetic and yet so funny.