Traveling the Caribbean

In January 2016 I traveled the Caribbean and visited the islands of Sint Marteen (the southern part of the island Saint Martin and part of the Netherlands), Antigua, St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) as well as Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic. All in all it was much more fun than I anticipated. I enjoyed exploring old fortresses protecting the harbor bays known from Hornblower and Bolitho novels, the laid back attitude and vibes as well as the beautiful beaches (although they are not as isolated and breathtaking as on the Seychelles where I went in 2014). Below there are a few instagram photos from the trip…

Sint Marteen

Antigua

St. Thomas

Amber Cove

Connecting the dots – Hornblower and Star Trek

As I was writing my last blog entry (Playing Sid Meier’s Civilization V on the Mac), I mentioned playing Sid Meier’s Pirates! and how it reminded me of my favorite childhood literature: The Hornblower Series by C. S. Forester. When I got around to study the Wikipedia entry in more detail, I realized:

Gene Roddenberry was influenced by the Hornblower character while creating the Star Trek characters James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard […].

(Source: “Becoming Picard (Patrick Stewart Interview)” BBC Online)

Taking this fact into consideration it makes absolute sense that I came around to Star Trek. The defining characteristics of the series’ heroes, the philosophical approach towards a better society and its opposition to capital punishment as well as the hyper-developed sense of duty are very much related. I am not sure this are the real reasons why I liked either (I suppose it’s just the adventures on the frontiers of the known world or universe) but it fits anyway.

After all, I am also relieved that many great men seem to have read the Hornblower series. Among those are of course Gene Roddenberry but also Ernest Hemingway, Jimmy Carter, Winston ChurchillPatrick Stewart and for sure Gregory Peck, who played the character in the 1951 film Captain Horatio Hornblower, co-starring Virginia Mayo. This is one of my favorite movies and I highly recommend it.

Captain_Horatio_Hornblower

(Source: “Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N.” Wikipedia)

So one could argue, I am in good company. Therefore I’d like to close with the words of Winston Churchill: “I find Hornblower admirable.” (Source: Winston Churchill, The Grand Alliance, p. 382.)

Playing Sid Meier’s Civilization V on the Mac

Sid Meier is probably the most influential game designer to me and maybe even my generation. Among many other games I most enjoyed watching my father play Silent Service and Railroad Tycoon when I was a little child and of course playing the Pirates! and Civilization series for myself.

Since the 80’ies many years have passed and after deviating to the PC world for a short time I am quite happy with the recent development in games for the Mac. Most major game titles are coming to the Mac now. In the Sid Meier corner I already spent many hours on Civilization IV and Pirates!. Especially Pirates! brought back many memories and actually made me read the favorite books from my childhood again (The Hornblower Series by C. S. Forester, if you are wondering).

I enjoyed playing all versions of Civilization and while I am waiting for a remake of Sid Meier’s Colonization, the new version Civilization V comes in handy. It hast been introduced just recently and was advertised with a 30% discount on the Aspyr Website on Black Friday according to Macrumors. As it turned out, the discount was not valid for Civilization V, so I decided to buy it as a direct download within the Steam Application which is required to run the game anyway. For just 49,99 € the fun was mine for the taking.

civ-V-1

I suppose this is just a port of the Windows game and it comes with several bugs as one would expect. The game crashed the first 3 times I tried to launch it and even after that there were serious display errors during video playback. This bug is already recognized, but there is no patch yet. It still kept crashing in play for a few more times but it seems to run smoothly now.

civ-V-2

The game has rather high system requirements. The main issue is the video graphic card. I am using a 13 inch Macbook Pro and a Mac Mini at home, each with a NVIDIA GeForce 9400M. Officially this setup seems not to be supported but it works anyway. I am not sure how to improve in this perspective. The current Macbook Pros and Mac Minis do not seem to have real superior power in this matter. They are using the NVIDIA GeForce GT 320M chip in the highest configuration. They score higher in benchmarks but surely wouldn’t warrant the investment. Only the current iMacs and Mac Pros seem to have real graphic power. This seems obvious but does not fit into my setup.

civ-V-3

I like the gameplay and the new look of the game. I don’t really mind the change from square to hexagonal tiles. Also, I think city states are a nice alternation from already established nations.

The biggest change to it’s predecessor is found in the combat area. There is only 1 unit per tile allowed in Civilization V. This really makes it interesting and requires a more tactical approach to defeat the enemy.

civ-V-4

civ-V-5

In my opinion, the complexity of the game has been reduced massively. This leads to an easier and faster gameplay but it also gets boring pretty fast. Still I think Civilization V is one of the best titles for the Mac if your are into strategy games.