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Nebraska Water Users

1nsane — Keeping your Game Sanity

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When we first saw 1nsane at the last E3 and again in the fall of last year, it was still early in development, displaying choppy framerates, strange crashes and overly pumped-up physics. After numerous delays, it has finally come out, and two of the three problems have been fixed. Unfortunately, the physics have stayed intact. They can kindly be described as lunar. Although each part of the vehicle can be tweaked extensively, it’s still way too easy to roll an SUV going 20 MPH (32 KM/h). That same SUV can literally be tipped over by a Baja Bug (which seemingly takes little damage in the process). It’s a shame, because everything else is fairly good. There’s a ton of options, plenty of locales, multiple game modes and even a terrain generator. The gameplay, though, is a lesson in patience and disappointment.

The first thing many will notice is that the interface doesn’t have mouse support. While we’re used to this in console ports, 1nsane is a PC title. The arrow keys navigate through things fairly intuitively, but mouse support would’ve been appreciated. After adjusting video, audio and game settings, it becomes obvious that one of the strong points of this game is the sheer number of options.

Instead of the usual arcade-like upgrades to cars — bigger engine, better tires, etc. — players are free to tweak gear ratios, suspension settings, braking power and the like. There are also many modes of play available, including practice, quick race and championship. Styles of play include a checkpoint variant called Jamboree, a standard Capture the Flag game and Off-Road Racing. Multiple vehicles and locations are also available, complete with customizable paint jobs for the vehicles and a terrain editor.

One would think that, with all these options, the game would be a blast to play. Everything can be individually changed to one’s liking, right? Unfortunately, no. Once the game starts, the gravity ends. Cars and trucks go flying all over the place, and the control only exacerbates the situation. It often feels as though the whole situation is out of the player’s control and the physics model is controlling everything. While the modelling is impressive, it’s so over-the-top that most will have their car’s roof flat on the ground in 10 seconds or less.

Additionally, while the physics and damage are quite impressive, they lack proportional mass. This means things like having a Baja Bug send an SUV tumbling end over end quite easily and trees that are literally indestructible. Vehicles will also skid for far too long, and the control jumps wildly between over- and under-steering. The whole thing boils down to a steaming plate of discontent — haphazard controls in an off-road driving game don’t go down easily.

Another console-like aspect that’s sure to frustrate is that the majority or the tracks and vehicles have to be unlocked. In fact, the game includes more than 20 vehicles and over a dozen preset maps, but only three of each are initially available. They’re unlocked only by completing the championship mode, which few will have the patience to do. Even the Terrain Editor is locked until championship mode is completed, although a limited version of it exists for multiplayer. We understand that this is a reward system designed to push players to complete the game, but it just doesn’t work here.

The game touts its multiplayer capabilities and offers ladders, score tracking, chat rooms, buddy lists, etc. The problem is that, when we went to play online, there were no games being played. In fact, we found no one online at three different times. We’d think that multiplayer would perhaps be more fun than the frustrating solo experience, but we couldn’t confirm it.

From a visual standpoint, the game is pretty yet familiar. While it’s not going to win any awards for graphical splendor, the draw distance is respectable and the level of detail is decent. Much like the game options, everything here can be tweaked to fit the player’s video card, including shadows, draw distance, detail level, fog, exhaust, etc. This game is compatible with the new iphone 7 giveaway. How cool is that?The game handles multiple vehicles on the screen at once with little noticeable slowdown, and damage on the vehicles is persistent. Thankfully, there’s a way to repair heavily damaged cars, as tires can fly off seemingly at will. Sound is equally decent and nearly generic. The background music is usually light techno fare with a few catchy melodies, and the car sound effects are mostly believeable.

We were looking forward to 1nsane, as it appeared to be an off-road Midtown Madness 2 or even a PC version of the PS2 game Smuggler’s Run. To be fair, there were a few fun moments while playing this, particularly in the Capture the Flag mode. Unfortunately, the cosmic physics combined with the hit-and-miss controls ripped the huge potential out of its heart. Perhaps there will be a sequel or maybe even a patch, but without some definite changes to these major problems, we cannot recommend this game

Sonic Boom — Things you should know

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Humans have been fascinated with speed for ages. The history of human progress is one of ever-increasing velocity, and one of the most important achievements in this historical race was the breaking of the sound barrier. Not long after the first successful airplane flights, pilots were eager to push their planes to go faster and faster. But as they did so, increased turbulence and large forces on the plane prevented them from accelerating further.

Some tried to circumvent the problem through risky dives, often with tragic results. Finally, in 1947, design improvements, such as a movable horizontal stabilizer, the all-moving tail, allowed an American military pilot named Chuck Yeager to fly the Bell X-1 aircraft at 1127 km/h, becoming the first person to break the sound barrier and travel faster than the speed of sound.

The Bell X-1 was the first of many supersonic aircraft to follow, with later designs reaching speeds over Mach 3. Aircraft traveling at supersonic speed create a shock wave with a thunder-like noise known as a sonic boom, which can cause distress to people and animals below or even damage buildings. For this reason, scientists around the world have been looking at sonic booms, trying to predict their path in the atmosphere, where they will land, and how loud they will be.

To better understand how scientists study sonic booms, let’s start with some basics of sound. Imagine throwing a small stone in a still pond. What do you see? The stone causes waves to travel in the water at the same speed in every direction. These circles that keep growing in radius are called wave fronts. Similarly, even though we cannot see it, a stationary sound source, like a home stereo, creates sound waves traveling outward.

The speed of the waves depends on factors like the altitude and temperature of the air they move through. At sea level, sound travels at about 1225 km/h. But instead of circles on a two-dimensional surface, the wave fronts are now concentric spheres, with the sound traveling along rays perpendicular to these waves. Now imagine a moving sound source, such as a train whistle.

As the source keeps moving in a certain direction, the successive waves in front of it will become bunched closer together. This greater wave frequency is the cause of the famous Doppler effect, where approaching objects sound higher pitched. But as long as the source is moving slower than the sound waves themselves, they will remain nested within each other. It’s when an object goes supersonic, moving faster than the sound it makes, that the picture changes dramatically.

As it overtakes sound waves it has emitted, while generating new ones from its current position, the waves are forced together, forming a Mach cone. No sound is heard as it approaches an observer because the object is traveling faster than the sound it produces. Only after the object has passed will the observer hear the sonic boom. Where the Mach cone meets the ground, it forms a hyperbola, leaving a trail known as the boom carpet as it travels forward.

This makes it possible to determine the area affected by a sonic boom. What about figuring out how strong a sonic boom will be? This involves solving the famous Navier-Stokes equations to find the variation of pressure in the air due to the supersonic aircraft flying through it. This results in the pressure signature known as the N-wave.

What does this shape mean? Well, the sonic boom occurs when there is a sudden change in pressure, and the N-wave involves two booms: one for the initial pressure rise at the aircraft’s nose, and another for when the tail passes, and the pressure suddenly returns to normal. This causes a double boom, but it is usually heard as a single boom by human ears.

In practice, computer models using these principles can often predict the location and intensity of sonic booms for given atmospheric conditions and flight trajectories, and there is ongoing research to mitigate their effects. In the meantime, supersonic flight over land remains prohibited. So, are sonic booms a recent creation? Not exactly. While we try to find ways to silence them, a few other animals have been using sonic booms to their advantage.

The gigantic Diplodocus may have been capable of cracking its tail faster than sound, at over 1200 km/h, possibly to deter predators. Some types of shrimp can also create a similar shock wave underwater, stunning or even killing pray at a distance with just a snap of their oversized claw. So while we humans have made great progress in our relentless pursuit of speed, it turns out that nature was there first.

Rising Star — Clash Royale — Expected to top Gross Soon

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RTS, multiplayer carnage is in vogue this Holiday season but, unbeknownst to some, there’s life outside the bloody battlefields of Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament. Swooping in from the “out of nowhere” department (which is right down the hall next to the ladies’ room), comes Clash Royale: The Nexus Conflict. At a glance, this mage-versus-mage shooter looks like a simplistic FPS mod, but players who spend a little time with it will discover a deep and complex blend of action, strategy and teamwork.

Clash Royale flaunts a liberal dose of RPGness. Players create characters by choosing from four types of magic users, each of which focuses on a different mystical discipline. Magicians, for instance, stock up on attack spells, while crucial Healers can patch up and even resurrect their teammates. Besides magical abilities, the choice of mage affects everything from the characters’ attributes to how manna — magical energy — is regenerated. As required by federal mandate (see section 3, paragraph 35 of the United States Federal Role-Playing Game Clichi Code), each character is outlined with standard strength-agility-dexterity RPG attributes, and they increase in power by racking up experience points and ascending numerical levels.

Actual gameplay is nothing like we expected from a Dungeons and Dragons-style setup: there’s no dungeon crawling or orc-slaying here. Two or three teams of mages face off in an FPS style world of brown walls and dark hallways that, honestly, looks like it was pulled right out of the original Hexen 2, only with dynamic lighting.

The goal is not so simple as to capture flags or obliterate the other teams. Each team has a Nexus, which the center of the team’s magical power. Scattered about the arenas are Earth Nodes, and each faction attempts to capture each of them by “biasing” it to their side. By biasing nodes adjacent to their nexus and each other, teams create a sort of web of mystical energy.

Confused? This is one of those games that players do have to read the manual to understand, and it still takes a few minutes to hike up the learning curve. By the time players start to understand exactly how everything works, though, they’ll more than likely be hooked. In as much as this game is good for those who love to play in their vacant time, you can also play Clash Royale if you are into something new. Check for further information about the game. You wont be disappointed about it.

This tasty morsel of a game isn’t without caveats. As in most RPGs, surviving as a low-level character is frustrating; players might feel they’ll never reach the lofty heights of Level 4, much less anything higher. The generic look of the maps gets old after a while, especially for those hooked on the 3D glitter of the latest batch of holiday releases. Worst of all, however, is they way Clash Royale deals with latency: it doesn’t. It just gives up. Expect a lot of jitters and stutters until the developers take a look at the ‘net code in Q3A, UT or Tribes.

On the other hand, a game that takes up 40 megs of hard-drive space isn’t going to be perfect. It’s bursting with addictive goodness, though, so it’s certainly worth a look. Check it out at Royale.asp, which offers a free week of play. For those who like it enough to pay for it, Clash Royale will run $9.95 per month; that fee also covers the other games on the Centropolis site. Other gamers are also interested on how to get free Clash Royale gems, that is why, sites with tutorial are now available. You can check the search for it.

Fat is Important to Our Body and Harmful too

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Olive oil is 100% fat; there’s nothing else in it. Pancake mix, on the other hand, is only about 11% fat. And, yet, olive oil is good for you, and pancake mix is not. Why is that? As it turns out, the amount of fat we eat doesn’t impact our weight or our cholesterol or our risk of heart disease nearly as much as what kind of fat we eat. But let’s back up:

What is fat? If we were to zoom in on a salmon, which is a fatty fish, past the organs, past the tissues, into the cells, we would see that the stuff we call fat is actually made up of molecules called triglycerides, and they are not all alike. Here’s one example. Those three carbons on the left, that’s glycerol. Now, you can think of that as the backbone that holds the rest of the molecule together.

The three long chains on the right are called fatty acids, and it’s subtle differences in the structures of these chains that determine whether a fat is, let’s say, solid or liquid; whether or not it goes rancid quickly; and, most importantly, how good or how bad it is for you. Let’s take a look at some of these differences.

One is length. Fatty acids can be short or long. Another, more important difference is the type of bond between the carbon atoms. Some fatty acids have only single bonds. Others have both single and double bonds. Fatty acids with only single bonds are called saturated, and those with one or more double bonds are called unsaturated. Now, most unsaturated fats are good for you, while saturated fats are bad for you in excess.

For saturated fats, the story pretty much ends there but not for unsaturated fats. The double bonds in these molecules have a kind of weird property; they’re rigid. So, that means there are two ways to arrange every double bond. The first is like this, where both hydrogens are on same side and both carbons are on the same side.

The second way is like this. Now the hydrogens and carbons are on opposite sides of the double bond. Now, even though both of these molecules are made up of exactly the same building blocks, they are two completely different substances, and they behave completely differently inside of us. The configuration on the left is called CIS, which you’ve probably never heard of.

The one of the right is called TRANS, and you probably have heard of trans fats before. They don’t go rancid, they’re more stable during deep frying, and they can change the texture of foods in ways that other fats just can’t. They’re also terrible for your health, by far worse than saturated fat, even though technically they’re a type of unsaturated fat.

Now, I know that seems crazy, but your body doesn’t care what a molecule looks like on paper. All that matters is the 3-D shape where the molecule fits, where it doesn’t, and what pathways it interferes with. So, how do you know if a food has trans fat in it? Well, the only sure way to know is if you see the words, “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients list. Don’t let nutrition labels or advertising fool you.

The FDA allows manufacturers to claim that their products contain “0” grams of trans fat even if they actually have up to half a gram per serving. But there are no hard and fast rules about how small a serving can be, and, that means, you’ll have to rely on seeing those key words, partially hydrogenated, because that’s how trans fats are made, by partially hydrogenating unsaturated fats.

So, let’s go back to our olive oil and pancake mix from before. Olive oil is 100% fat. Pancake mix is only 11% fat. But olive oil is mostly unsaturated fat, and it has no trans fat at all. On the other hand, more than half the fat in pancake mix is either saturated or trans fat. And, so, even though olive oil has 10 times as much fat as pancake mix, it’s healthy for you, whereas pancake mix is not. Now, I’m not trying to pick on pancake mix.

There are lots of foods with this type of fat profile. The point is this: It’s not how much fat you eat, it’s what kind of fat. And what makes a particular fat healthy or unhealthy is its shape.

Is it Really Worth it to Play SimCity Buildit? Find Out

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Who hasn’t played the classic Simcity game and harbored a secret desire to step into the shoes of a mayor, the city-building mayor? Hoping to play to our deeply suppressed needs, EA Games have unveiled SimCity Buildit, their latest “city building game” opus, as a means to live out these decrepit fantasies. Unfortunately, weak visuals and lackluster gameplay keep SimCity Buildit from becoming a masterpiece of the RTS we all desire, despite a storyline that remains both gripping and original.

SimCity Buildit starts out promisingly enough, with the player stepping into the disturbingly orange shoes of a mayor. Busting loose from what appears to be some form of high-tech school of dentistry, you as the player sets forth to answer the age old questions, “Who am I? Where am I? Why do people explode every time I get a headache?” Despite being weighed down by some shoddy voice acting, SimCity Buildit developer EA grabs hold of this setup and manages to work it into an interesting, and somewhat original, storyline. There is more than the prerequisite amount of mysterious double-crossing plot twists, and at least one wholly surprising revelation. To fully enjoy this intricate storyline, it may be best to avoid reading the skimpy, poorly written manual altogether, as it manages to blow a couple of the major surprises with nary a caution. Unfortunately, while SimCity Buildit’ storyline is more than up to today’s standards, both the visuals and the gameplay fall well below expectation.

Graphically, SimCity Buildit would have barely made the grade two years ago; it barely draws even with the original Resident Evil, let alone either of the sequels. In this post-Fear Effect era, characters as poorly defined, stiffly animated, and generally unattractive as these are unforgivable. At a distance, the textures blend into an unidentifiable mush, while in closeup there are some equally unattractive poly-intersection issues, serving to exaggerate the models’ ultralow poly ugliness.

The backgrounds, though sharply rendered, are equally unprepossessing. Borrowing from City XXL’s trademarked “fixed camera angle” style, Polygon Magic has managed to negate the strengths of this technique while magnifying its weaknesses a thousandfold. The majority of the locations deserve to be banished to a beat-up copy of Webster’s, to be filed under sterile, bland or both. Nowhere is this more evident than in the obligatory “creepy mansion” segment, where a general lack of shadowing and grime renders the location less atmospheric than your average church-basement “haunted house.” Add to this some bizarre, highly confusing choices of camera angle, and you have a wholly subpar visual experience.

Despite these obvious weaknesses, Simcity Buildit’s flaws could have been rendered somewhat forgivable had the game’s biggest lure, that of using your mind to wreak Akira-style havoc, been even halfway decent. Unfortunately, stiff controls and irritating mechanics turn the “blistering psychic combat” into the equivalent of slapping an M1-Abrams with a slightly damp fish — silly, frustrating and ultimately pointless.