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the (most expensive?) star trek game that barely sold


In my collection of now-vintage video games is Star Trek: A Final Unity. No, I did not buy it for full price and I'll explain that in a moment.

The year, 1995. Spectrum Holobyte releases ST:AFU which probably had the highest production cost for any video game of the time. The graphics were very intricate and represented the show characters for Star Trek: The Next Generation almost flawlessly. In addition, almost every show character voiced their own parts. Yes, this means Patrick Stewart voiced Captain Picard, Brent Spiner voiced Lt. Commander Data, Marina Sirtis voiced Counselor Deanna Troi and so on. I don't even want to begin to know what was spent to get all those actors from the show in the game, but they're there.

I distinctly remember the price of the game when released; there were two versions.

The first version was your standard box-and-CD, which in itself was pretty amazing for 1995 being not everyone had a CD-ROM drive yet. That cost $65.

The second collector's version - which came in series - was $105 to buy it. And no, I'm not kidding. I don't know how many of the series there were, but each came with special collector pieces, a pin if I remember correctly and a toy figurine.

It wasn't even a question of whether I'd buy either version or not - the answer was flat out no. Way too expensive.

Less than six months later I was in some major electronics store with my father going to buy something (I don't remember what). I saw this cheap white cardboard kiosk, as in the kind you see at Wal-Mart routinely, loaded with ST:AFU copies. All of them were nothing more than a cheap white black-and-white booklet and CD in shrink-wrap.

The price: $17. I bought it.

Yes, that means that those who released the game were so desperate to sell it had to make an ultra-basic version for sale just to break even - assuming that even happened. The game was exactly the same as it was in the $65 and $105 versions in a plain wrapper.

I recently dug out my copy of ST:AFU, which is playable and runs perfectly in DOSBox even on Windows 7 64-bit. Ah, the memories.

ST:AFU is a great game, no question. Well, except for the space battles - those suck. But the rest of the game is spot-on. It takes a long time to get through it and you can tell a ton of effort was put into development. The storyline is good, the game follows the show very well and most of all it's fun.

Here's the entire walkthrough of the game:

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top banana

For the first time in about 5 years (maybe longer) I've bought a new guitar; a Squier Bullet Strat in Arctic White which is actually a pale yellow that is commonly referred to as "Cream"-colored.

On my Facebook fan page I posted a video playing it and a comment came across calling it "top banana". I found this funny because the guitar is sorta/kinda banana-colored, so the name fits. My nickname for the guitar is Top Banana or just Banana.

How I came across this guitar isn't any kind of a special story but I'll tell it anyway.

The red 1989 Squier II Stratocaster, my first guitar, really shouldn't be played as hard as I play it, so it was time for a replacement. Originally I was going to spend the money on a Squier "Standard", but the Squier Bullet Strat received great reviews all around and it happened to be offered in Arctic White - which I wanted.

I called up Guitar Center in Tampa to see if they had any in the color I wanted. They did. Just one. I drove on down, played the guitar for a few minutes then bought it.

The Squier Bullet Strat is the cheapest new guitar Squier makes, and cost me $128 after tax. She's a solid axe all around and I believe she'll be making good music for a good long time.

are good guitar players all dicks?

I received a question on my fan page recently that I sorta/kinda sidestepped but did so in a humorous way:


Here's the long drawn-out answer I would give if I were to answer that question seriously.

A properly seasoned guitar player can plug in their guitar into any half-assed amplifier or other system and start playing immediately. In addition, they can also improvise riffs on the spot out of thin air and do so in such a way where others (like another guitar player, bass player or drummer) can easily join in on the jam.

Beginner guitar players can't jam because they're not seasoned. And heck, even some who have been playing for years never learn how to jam properly, but staying on the topic of beginners, it's generally true that properly seasoned players find beginners very annoying to be around.

The reason some (but not all) beginners are annoying is because instead of actually playing and learning, they berate the seasoned player with question after question after question, over and over and over; the beginner wants a teacher. Well, the seasoned player doesn't want to do that and gets ticked off almost instantly. If berated with enough questions, it gets to the point where the seasoned player will, sometimes literally, say, "Either shut up and play or go home."

At this point you have a crap sandwich. The seasoned player really didn't want to tell the beginner to bug off because he didn't want to hurt the kid's feelings but had to just to get the kid to shut the hell up and leave him alone, so the damage is done. The beginner player now hates the seasoned player for life, because you don't forget things like that.

Are all good guitar players dicks towards beginners? In the respect they don't want to be involuntary teachers, yes. However it depends how thick or thin a seasoned player's skin is that determines how much of an idiot he's perceived as.

Seasoned players who are very vocal about their disdain for beginner players will be labeled as dicks instantly; that's a fact. Conversely, seasoned players who know how to keep a tight lip and be tolerant of beginners are deemed "cool", and that's just the way it works.

This isn't to say that tolerance of beginners doesn't have its limits, because I'm not in the business of teaching the guitar, nor do I have any interest in figuratively spoon-feeding anyone into becoming a better player. However, instead of telling a beginner to bug off concerning information and tips he could have obviously found himself, I just post reference information these days, usually in the form of a link. I'll even post links to videos of tutorials by other players showing how stuff is done.

In the end, I'm a player and not a teacher. There are tons of guitar tutorials on YouTube and elsewhere on the internet, so whenever I get asked to teach something, I just reference that material. It explains things better than I could, and furthermore is presented by people who want to give explanations of how the guitar is played.

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