Monday, March 19, 2018

Listing of Cars by Size 2018

Here's a listing of cars, by size, for 2018, hopefully making your car buying experience quicker and easier. Note that some of the listed cars are older or out of production because I figure that you may be shopping for a used vehicle. The car industry makes sorting this list out rather difficult, which means that I made some guesses, especially on sports cars, so double-check my information.

The list should work well for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. (Yes, I typed those all for search engine optimization.)

While I included some performance and luxury cars on the list, I didn't spend much time on them, instead focusing on commonly available vehicles. I looked at a dollar limit for what I would include, but that didn't work.

To be included on this list, a shopper must have a reasonable chance of finding this car on the secondary market.


Fiat 500
Smart Fortwo

Sub-Compact Cars

Audi A3 (luxury)
Audi S3 (luxury)
Audi RS3  (luxury)
Audi TT (luxury)
BMW 2-Series (luxury)
BMW i3 (luxury)
Chevy Aveo
Chevy Spark
Chevy Sonic
Ford C-Max
Ford Fiesta
Honda Fit
Hyundai Accent
Hyundai Veloster
Kia Rio
Mazda 2
Mazda MX-5 Miata
Mini Cooper
Mitsubishi Mirage
Nissan Versa
Scion tC (discontinued 2016)
Toyota 86
Toyota Prius C
Toyota Yaris
Volkswagen Beetle (discontinued 2018)
Volkswagen Jetta

Compact Cars

Acura CL (luxury, discontinued 2003)
Acura IL (luxury)
Acura TS (luxury)
Audi A4 (luxury)
Audi S4 (luxury)
BMW 3 Series (luxury)
Buick Cascada
Buick Regal
Buick Verano
Cadillac ATS
Chevy Bolt
Chevy Camaro
Chevy Cobalt (discontinued)
Chevy Cruze
Chevy Volt
Dodge Dart
Ford Focus
Honda Civic
Honda Clarity
Hyundai Elantra
Hyundai Ioniq
Infiniti Q 50 (luxury)
Infiniti G Series (luxury)
Kia Forte
Kia Spectra (discontinued 2009)
Lexus CT (luxury)
Lexus GS (luxury)
Lexus HS (luxury)
Lexus IS (luxury)
Mazda 3
Mazda Protege (discontinued)
Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class (luxury)
Mitsubishi Lancer
Mitsubishi Galant (discontinued 2013-2017)
Nissan Cube
Nissan Leaf
Nissan Sentra
Nissan Z
Pontiac Vibe (discontinued 2005)
Scion iM (discontinued 2016)
Scion FR-S (discontinued 2016)
Scion xB (discontinued 2002-2007)
Subaru BRZ
Subaru Impreza
Subaru WRX
Tesla Model 3
Toyota Corolla
Toyota Matrix (discontinued 2013)
Toyota Mirai
Toyota Prius
Volkswagen Gulf
Volkswagen Gulf (wagon)
Volkwagen GLI
Volkswagen GTI
Volvo S60 (luxury)

Mid-Size (Family) Cars

Acura TL (luxury)
Audi A6 (luxury)
Audi A7 (luxury)
BMW 5 Series (luxury)
BMW 6 Series (luxury)
Buick Lucerne
Cadillac CT Series
Chevy HHR (discontinued 2011)
Chevy Monte Carlo (discontinued 2007)
Chevy SS (performance)
Chrysler 200
Chrysler PT Cruiser
Chevy Malibu
Dodge Avenger (discontinued 2014)
Ford Fusion
Honda Accord
Hyundai Sonata
Infiniti M45 (discontinued)
Infiniti Q70
Infiniti Q60
Kia Optima
Kia Stinger
Lexus ES (luxury)
Lincoln MK
Mazda 5 (discontinued)
Mazda 6
Mercedes-Benz C-Class (luxury)
Mercury Sable (discontinued)
Mini Countryman
Mitsubishi Eclipse (discontinued)
Mitsubishi Galant (discontinued 2012)
Nissan Altima
Scion xB (discontinued 2008-2015)
Subaru Baja (discontinued 20016)
Subaru Legacy
Subaru Outback
Toyota Camry
Toyota Prius V
Toyota Solara (discontinued 2008)
Volkswagen Arteon (2018- )
Volkswagen Passat
Volkswagen CC (discontinued 2017)
Volvo V Series
Volvo S Series

Full-Size Cars

Acura RL (luxury)
Audi A8 (luxury)
BMW 7 Series (luxury)
Buick LaCrosse
Cadillac XTS
Cadillac DeVille (discontinued 2005)
Chevy Impala
Chrysler 300
Dodge Charger (performance)
Ford Five Hundred
Ford Taurus
Hyundai Azera
Hyundai Genesis (luxury)
Infiniti Q70L
Kia Cadenza
Kia K900
Lexus LS (luxury)
Lincoln Continental (luxury)
Mercedes-Benz E-Class (luxury)
Mercedes-Benz S-Class (luxury)
Mercury Grand Marquis (discontinued 2011)
Nissan Maxima
Pontiac Grand Prix (discontinued 2008)
Tesla Model X (luxury)
Toyota Avalon
Volvo S90 (luxury)
Volvo V90 Cross Country (luxury)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Final Fantasy XIII

I'm sitting here, worn out, wondering if I event want to bother with the ending. I've been grinding towards the end for several days now and it's still not in sight. Emotionally, Final Fantasy XIII has been a vampire to me, draining me of excitement and energy as I go. I've developed strong opinions about this game, and few of them are good, and some are repeatable in polite company.

There was a point in the middle of the game, on Pulse, where I finally got an open playground, and when I got the ability to move on in the story, I rebelled and went backwards, because I just couldn't face more of the story.

The story opens in media res, with stuff happening and characters being introduced, and then like the TV series Lost, flashes backwards in time to fill in character's backstories. This created a sense of disorientation. At the same time, I'm learning a brand new combat system, one based on roles, more like D&D 4th edition than any previous Final Fantasy, and I feel disoriented. There's an equipment system based on levels, but I don't have enough information to make sense of it, or even have any benchmarks, so I feel a bit disoriented. Finally, there are vague terms that I can't quite work out, like l'cie and fal'cie, and what's what, and who's who, leaving me rather disoriented. This combined to leave me not only disoriented, but utterly apathetic to the story, fully divorced from any emotion or delight.

There's no delight in this story. None. I don't care about the characters because there is no delight in them. Lightning, in addition to having no real personality to speak of, goes around hitting people, because she's a walking psycho case. She's everything wrong with the modern male character shoved into a female character.

I never quite bought the plot. In that, I mean that the characters determine their course of action, and when they're standing around and grandstanding their decision, I gasp at their utter incomprehensible leaps of logic and loyalty. The plot makes them go places but doesn't support that journey very well.

We have a new combat system that was supposed to be exciting, but I often found it devolved into "hit them fast" if the opponents were low level, or "fight defensively" if they were high level. That's a shame, because there was real merit to the combat system. They had a way of changing what your party's overall tactics were, much like a sports team will change up depending on where the ball is on the field and who has it. Those quick changes, when they're working well, do engage you. When they don't work well, it's a grind.

A terrible flaw in the combat system is that your main character, your leader, must always stay up, otherwise you lose the fight. That's pretty stupid,frustrating, and needlessly random, because the fights, especially the hard ones, sometimes just kill your leader randomly because that's the math. Towards the end, there was one creature that could one-hit kill my leader from full hit points, so after fighting for ten minutes, I'd have to start over simply because chance happened.

The boss fights often felt like grinds instead of exciting. Because you had to fight more defensively, and protect your leader, I often wound up hitting, healing, and tanking for extended periods of time.

I found the level pacing off for the game. I dwelled and extra twenty hours in the middle part simply because I had to catch up my leveling and prepare for the next stage, where I was sure that the designers would slam me, and I was right. The middle proved such a grind that the developers had to create kill missions from statues to give you something to do, and lots of mini-bosses to fight. As dull as that sounds, I enjoyed that more than the actual game.

Leveling was a bit odd, using tracks to acquire various abilities and stats as you gained XP. There weren't many choices worth thinking about. The whole thing could have been automated with little problem because it gave me the illusion of choice when there wasn't truly a choice at all.

If you like insane amounts of continuous fighting, this game will work for you, but I found that when I needed a change-up in the game, there was nothing else to do except fight. Presumably, the game threw out all the boring stuff that the director thought was boring, but that stuff was actually interesting to some of us, so the game wound up flatter and duller for the streamlining.

I have to save my biggest criticism for the ending. It was one of the most egregious "what the fuck?" endings that I've ever witnessed. Endings are supposed to wrap up the loose and then the biggest loose end, it's not supposed to wrap up things that weren't even problems, by pulling out one deus ex machina after another, especially when they're superfluous machinas. I literally did not follow the cut scenes because they just pulling stuff out of nowhere, things that were barely hinted in the story, if hinted at all.

While technically an excellent game, which played solidly, never crashed, and got me 60 fps on a cheap video card, the game somehow wound up less than the sum of its parts.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Maid of Hope

Maid of Hope is now out on Amazon, completing the Maid Of series. Read and enjoy.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Pegasus in Space (2001)

Pegasus in Space (2001) by Anne McCaffrey feels like one of those superfluous books that didn't need to get written, and only got written to milk an existing property. This book in particular links together her Talents series with the future Damia books, in a story which didn't need to get written, which shines no light onto history, nor provides any additional insights into the world.

I found the work astonishingly dull.

As usual, the heroes of McCaffrey's world are competent to a fault, everyone else is incompetent, if not stupid, and the villains are just competent enough to be bad, but are otherwise stupid. There's little duller and less compelling than a McCaffrey villain.

What's at stake? I really don't know. The story seems to drive itself in circles until it finally reaches and end. Peter learns to turn his power to awesome, mostly because everyone downstream of him seems incompetent, while the financial and tactical awesomeness of his power gets short shrift.

As for the characters, I found them lackluster to a fault. Even the romance subplot fell flat for me.

Cut down to novella length, this might have been a good story for me, but as a novel, I found it too full of fluff, tediously paced, and unengaging from beginning to end.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Final Fantasy XIII is not an RPG

I've been playing Final Fantasy XII (FF13), and I've slowly concluded that it's not an RPG. Those are bold words, so let me explain.

An RPG consists of four elements: story, character progression, combat, and exploration. Those elements combine to produce a dislinear flow. A dislinear flow is characterized by the following: an overarching story direction taking the player from beginning to end of a game, with varying focuses along the way, changing the experience of the game in predictable ways but at irregular intervals, with the player themselves acting as the introducer of the dislinear element.

There I go, making up words.

In a typical RPG game, especially a JRPG game, the characters travel from dungeon to dungeon, set piece to set piece, working through the adventure until they fight the final boss. These games are, without a doubt, on railroad tracks. The story can only occur one way. However, between the fixed poles that compose the story, the exact way that the player get between any two fixed points can vary. A player might run around town exploring for chests, talk to all the NPCs, then do a bit of shopping before fighting their way through to the next save point. They might retreat, or they might press on. They may grind a bit to advance their level. Depending on their mood and personality, the player focuses on the elements of the game that they like.

In FF13, the element of exploration has been almost entirely removed. There are no towns, no talking to people, no treasure hunts, no wandering around aimlessly, and no illusion of freedom. Because the exploration element has been almost entirely eliminated, the human factor that contributed to dislinear flow is removed from the game, resulting in a game that plays with a linear flow. This makes the game feel entirely predictable, like it's on rails. Story can now only occur at story points, meaning that the space between story points is only filled character progression and combat.

In addition, by removing exploration, the game removed context, which is a huge deliverer of information. Maps, towns, cities, NPCs, and such things may seem trivial, but they provide context about the world without having to create a cut scene or data entry to explain them. With exploration elements removed, more information must be shoved into cut scene, which in turn means that even more of the game feels even more linear, like you're being force-fed the story. For example, if you walk across a map and into a forest, where you find a village, you don't need a cut scene telling you that you've found a forest town because the map already provided that information in a far more compact and understandable. Likewise, maps convey the feeling of distance and relationship. Settlements aren't just places to visit, they actively illustrate what life is like for the ordinary person in a visual manner, providing information on technology, art, culture, and economy.

With exploration, the game never quite settles into a rhythms of story, fight, and explore, because each intrudes on the space of the other, and they can be combined in more ways than one. With exploration removed, the game settles into a rhythm of story-fight-story, with stops along the way to level up. This simplistic structure  changes an RPG game into an action-combat game with RPG elements.

In many ways, I think that Square was trying to emulate Mass Effect, but even Mass Effect was smart enough to place some exploration in their game, providing players a means to wander about and discover stuff that providing the player some benefit.

None of this is to call Final Fantasy XIII a bad game, but this does explain why I consider it a bad RPG. By removing all the dull stuff between fights, the designers removed a significant element in the player experience.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Pegasus in Flight (1990)

Pegasus in Flight (1990) is the talents book that nobody asked for, one written to link up with her other psychic books set in the Nine Star League. Fluffy to a fault, the future depicted in this work is simultaneously utterly terrifying and authoritarian, and that's the good guys. The bad guys are worse.

The book itself follows three main plot lines: Tirla, Retinger, and the forced labor building of a space station. You read that right, forced labor. People are scared of talents because they're different, which is weird because the population should be scared of talents for their mind control which is systematically used to keep the population docile. (This is not an exaggeration. This is literally one of their jobs.) Working conditions are horrible, yet nobody goes on strike. In fact, on the space station, working conditions are murderous, yet even that can't get the building supervisor removed.

Properly, this tale should be a short story, or a novella at best. There's just not enough going on to sustain an entire novel. Anne frequently presents the same information multiple times, or wanders down a dull and easily cut siding.

As usual, McCaffrey's villains are not only pedestrian and dull, they're so stupid that they kidnap psychic kids. (If you want to destroy your own secret human trafficking ring from the inside, kidnap a psychic kid. They really were stupid.) The other villain is just a stupid and demanding manager who should be assailable just because she's so incompetent, criminally mismanaging the construction of a space station.

If this book isn't sounding very fun, it isn't, which is exactly my point. Nothing about the book is fun. Nothing. It's good for a skim and that's about it.

You'll notice that I have nothing to say about the characters. That's because there is nothing to say about most of the characters. Not one of them shone for me. One's a street smart scamp and the other is a future super-psychic, and together, they fight crime. That's not a joke, either.

This book goes onto my "cannot recommend for any reason" list.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Mitsubishi Tredia (early-80's)

After my dad got done with his Chevy, in the late 80's he bought a used blue Mitsubishi Tredia. What I recall most was the orange digital control panel, which I hated. Because there was no speedometer, I had to look at the number to determine the speed, which irked me.

A second thing that I hated about the car was the gas indicator. When I started the car, the gas always showed at reasonable levels, but by the time that I got anywhere, the gas showed itself as significantly lower in level. This caused some fights with my dad because I didn't fill the tank. We were both right, because it was the digital gauge that stuck. For years afterwards, I refused to trust any sort of digital gauge.

Other than those two facts, I remember nothing about the car, which means that he must have bought the 2.0L i4 88hp mated to a 3-speed automatic, because it definitely wasn't the turbocharged version Those numbers were for a 2200 lb car, so handling wasn't amazing, but it wasn't awful.