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  1. GildedOctopusStudios

    Why do people like horror video games?

    Just to be completely honest I don’t remember ever playing a horror video game but somehow when coming up with ideas for video games the one that was the most doable was a horror game. I have played quite a few horror board games though and the board game shelves in my house have an absurd number of lovecraftian inspired games on them. I’ve tried to do a decent amount of research into horror as a genre because of my lack of hands on video game experience. So why do people enjoy horror? Well according to the University of Chicago Press Journals(1) “Investigators generally use one of two theories to explain why people like horror movies. The first is that the person is not actually afraid, but excited by the movie. The second explanation is that they are willing to endure the terror in order to enjoy a euphoric sense of relief at the end. But, a new study by Eduardo Andrade (University of California, Berkeley) and Joel B. Cohen (University of Florida) appearing in the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research argues that neither of these theories is correct. “We believe that a reevaluation of the two dominant explanations for people’s willingness to consume “negative” experiences (both of which assume that people can not experience negative and positive emotions simultaneously) is in order,” explain Andrade and Cohen in their study. They continue: “The assumption of people’s inability to experience positive and negative affect at the same time is incorrect.” In other words, the authors argue that horror movie viewers are happy to be unhappy. This novel approach to emotion reveals that people experience both negative and positive emotions simultaneously — people may actually enjoy being scared, not just relief when the threat is removed. As the authors put it, “the most pleasant moments of a particular event may also be the most fearful.” Andrade and Cohen developed and utilize a new methodology to track negative and positive feelings at the same time. Their method could apply to other experiences that seem to elicit terror, risk, or disgust, such as extreme sports. “When individuals who typically choose to avoid the stimuli were embedded in a protective frame of mind, such that there was sufficient psychological disengagement or detachment, they experienced positive feelings while still experiencing fearfulness,” the authors explain.” Dr. Griffiths complies a number of other reasons in his article Why Do We Like Watching Scary Films?(2) “According to a 2004 paper in the Journal of Media Psychology by Dr. Glenn Walters, the three primary factors that make horror films alluring are tension (generated by suspense, mystery, terror, shock, and gore), relevance (that may relate to personal relevance, cultural meaningfulness, the fear of death, etc.), and (somewhat paradoxically given the second factor) unrealism.” Unreal-ism seems like an odd factor to consider in the enjoyment of a video based medium. It plays into the idea though that movies and video games can be a vicarious way to experience emotions. You might be very scared but you know you are actually safe. This was a common theme in most of the articles I read on horror video games. Perhaps as video games mature as a genre of entertainment we will begin to see more horror games or maybe they will always be a sort of outlier when compared to fantasy RPGS and FPS games. (1) University of Chicago Press Journals. “Why Do People Love Horror Movies? They Enjoy Being Scared.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070725152040.htm>. (2) Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. “Why Do We Like Watching Scary Films?” Psychology Today. Oct 29, 2015< https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-excess/201510/why-do-we-watching-scary-films > The post Why do people like horror video games? appeared first on Gilded Octopus. View the full article
  2. GildedOctopusStudios

    How I got into Programming

    It started with a racehorse breaking it’s leg. In 2006 the race horse Barbaro shattered his leg during the second race of the Triple Crown. I was watching the race with a group of my friends from Pony Club(Think like a way tougher and ballsier version of Scouts but totally focused on horses.) He ended up undergoing surgery, having tons of pins put into his leg, going lame, and then having to be put down because of it. I theorized that if he had instead had the leg amputated they might have been able to keep him alive because either way he was never going to race again. This inspired a science fair project about prosthetic legs for horses. I did a ton of research and made a very rough prototype of a more advanced prosthetic leg than what is available even today. That Science Fair project won me the Hubert Hoover Award and sparked a serious science fair addiction. Unfortunately there was little opportunity for prosthetic research for a Midwestern farm girl. At this point I didn’t just want to compete in science fairs I wanted to win and robotics was the closest thing I could get to prosthetic. The benefit with robotics is that I didn’t need special oversight or to use an actual lab. I lived on a farm and had easy access to a wide variety of tools and my dad set me up a little bench in the back of his shop. My Dad and my grandpa tought me how to use many of their tools and pretty much let me run around and play with power tools. My mom the biologist tought me the scientific method and helped find me mentors and books. It was a great time in my life and every year my projects placed higher. (Other than the one year I decided to build a hoover craft. It was a terrible idea and I didn’t win anything.) Somehow my family found out about the first robotics competition but it wasn’t something I could enter on my own. I needed a team. So I assembled a team from like five different counties of every kid in the right age range I could talk into joining which wasn’t very many. It was a farming community so what sort of robot did we build. Well we took inspiration from the things we knew, tractors! Great big sturdy pieces of equipment. We did not have the most technologically advanced robot but it was sturdy. A lot of teams were very kind and helped us entirely rewire it on the first day of competition due to none of the wiring being to spec. We had to cut chunks off to get it down to weight. I had to entirely reprogram it after all I was the only kid who had done any programming before. It was sturdy though so as the days went on it just kept going. We could play defense so hard because well it wasn’t going to break even if it got flipped over. We ended up wining and getting to go to the international competition. During the last 3 years of highschool I ended up going to 5 international competitions, 2 FIRST Robotics, 2 Science Fairs(I’m a two time ISEF Finalist.), and performing with a drill team at the World Equestrian Games. I got to see Princes, Princesses, and Bill Nye the Science Guy. It was insane and wonderful. I ended up getting a scholarship to a great engineering college and because of all the robotics decided I wanted to be a Mechanical Engineer. Two years in and an internship and I realized Mechanical Engineer’s didn’t do what I thought they did. I realized that degree path wasn’t for me after all I wouldn’t get to play with controls till at least senior year and if I switched to CompSci well I could start doing similar stuff a lot sooner. It was the right choice. Immediately after switching majors I got offered a research position. I had a terrible boss for that position but it was paid and ended up helping me get my second one. The second one helped me get an internship at a Fortune 500 company which admittedly I was driving 1.5 hours one way for but it was great. It really solidified that I loved programming. Admittedly I had always loved programming I just hadn’t really realized it. I was still a little in love with controls though so when an opportunity to work full time while finishing school as a Controls Engineer/Programmer presented its self I took it. I ended up quitting it due to reasons I’ll probably end up explaining in another post but I was able to use the money from it to pay off my student debt. That’s how I ended up here deeply in love with programming with an almost completed CompSci degree that I have been working on for so many years its ridiculous. Its a pretty unique way to get into programming and I always get a lot of questions when I tell people that I got started because a race horse broke his leg. It really was what started it all for me though. The post How I got into Programming appeared first on Gilded Octopus. View the full article
  3. GildedOctopusStudios

    Free Promotion for Indie Games

    Hi. I have a blog over at www.gildedoctopusstudios.com and I would love to interview you about your game. If you are interested you can DM me on here or contact me through my website.
  4. GildedOctopusStudios

    Looking for new games

    If you have a game that has recently come out or is about to I would love to interview you about it for my blog. Just DM me.
  5. GildedOctopusStudios

    Guest Post: The PRISM Conspiracy

    For today’s post I’ve asked a dear friend of mine to write a post about where she got the inspiration for a recent novel. I tend to get a lot of inspiration for my games from novels so I thought it would be interesting to ask an author where she got her inspiration from. Mary Mary Schlegel is a museum tour guide and science writer by day, and a writer of fiction by night, with a passionate love for reading, hiking, baking, and drinking inordinate amounts of tea. She and her author husband Aaron live in the heart of the Ozark Mountains with their many story characters, in an apartment stuffed to overflowing with books. “First of all a big “thank you!” to Ashley for the opportunity to be a guest on her blog…as ironic as that is. Why ironic? Well, because I am probably the least tech-savvy person I know, and yet here I am, a guest on a technology blog. Life is funny, isn’t it? But, while I may not be a tech-savvy person in my daily life, it just so happens that I’m an author (primarily of fantasy) who’s written a science fiction novel revolving around futuristic technology. (Or maybe not so futuristic!) The PRISM Conspiracy is about a gullible architectural artist named Abigail, who lands her dream job with one of the most prestigious architectural firms in the world. The company uses personality profiling technology to pair employees with work partners who balance out their strengths and weaknesses, to create a more efficient and productive team. Abigail scores exceptionally high on the scale of creativity and originality…so high, in fact, that the only employee with a logic and mathematics score high enough to balance her out is a machine—an experimental, completely human-looking android named Rory. Except…it doesn’t take long for Abigail to discover that Rory isn’t an android at all. He’s actually a human victim of a medical experiment’s unintended side effects—side effects that have made him forget that he’s even human. To start it all off, this whole concept actually came from a weird dream I had years ago, about a man who everyone thought was an android. (Perhaps influenced by my love for the character Data from Star Trek TNG? Who knows.) When I decided to turn the dream into a novel, the first thing I had to do was figure out how to facilitate that premise. How do you make everyone believe that a human is just a machine—including that human himself? I started doing research on the human sense of self awareness (since it seemed reasonable that Rory’s would have to be suppressed to believe himself a robot without being completely psychotic) and discovered that even with all of our modern technology and knowledge, scientists and doctors still have no idea where our consciousness and self-awareness come from within the brain. Perfect for my story! Obviously losing self awareness would take something major happening in a person’s brain, but it also needed to be something not completely understood by science yet, so that I still had room to work and speculate and ask “what if?” as a novelist. I decided to look into epilepsy as a candidate for my story needs, and as soon as I started researching it, I knew it was perfect. Not only because it fit the parameters I needed for my story, but because it’s so much more prevalent than I ever imagined! Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders in the world, and yet it’s still very poorly understood compared to others. I realized that a lot more people than I thought are dealing with this condition, and yet I didn’t know of any novels featuring characters who have it, and I wanted to change that. The Epilepsy Foundation was an amazing source of information—most of what I now know about epilepsy I learned from their incredibly informative website, epilepsy.com. In the course of my research I learned that there are already some electronic options for seizure reduction, in the form of devices designed to react to unusual brain activity and use stimulation to try to divert the seizure. These devices have shown amazing success rates. That inspired me to wonder, “What if that technology had been taken in a different direction from the outset?” What if, instead of a device that tried to divert the seizure activity before it started, someone created a device that simply tried to contain the seizure—like putting a bomb-proof box around a grenade (That line actually made it into the story!)? What if they created something like a digital network of doors or gates, dividing the brain into sections that they could then isolate in the event of a seizure? This of course began bringing in the cyborg, science fiction elements that I wanted into the story—the concept of humans being augmented with computer technology. Then followed a chain of what-ifs: What if certain human brain signals had a previously undiscovered electrical signature that wouldn’t allow them to get through this digital network? What if those signals were different from person to person, making the side effects unpredictable? What if, in Rory’s case, some of the signals that couldn’t get through were the ones that made him self-aware? But what if, since the scientists and doctors working with him had no idea where self-awareness comes from in the first place, they couldn’t do anything to undo it? So what if, instead of trying to fix it, they simply added in computer programs and algorithms to artificially replace the language and interaction skills he had lost, making him seem very stiff and robotic in his behavior? And what if, since Rory was already a brilliant engineer and physicist before developing epilepsy, the programming had somehow “decluttered” his brain and allowed him to far exceed his previous abilities in those areas, essentially turning him into a super computer? And that was how I created a human robot (as well as the conflict of the story—because there are plenty of people out there eager to exploit Rory’s enhanced abilities). Of course, in order to make the concept of a totally human-looking android believable to the characters, I had to move the story forward into the future a bit, meaning I got to play around with ideas of what everyday technology might look like thirty years from now as well. Since medical devices were the only technology really crucial to the plot, I tried to keep everything else pretty simple so as not to be distracting, basically just advancements in currently existing technology. For instance, I decided to give in-vehicle GPS systems hologram projection abilities—because why not? I liked the idea of your GPS using a hologram projected onto your windshield to show you exactly where to turn, and it did come in handy when Abigail and Rory find themselves on the run in a less-than desirable part of town where streets aren’t clearly marked. There is a brief reference to eyeglasses being outdated and obsolete, widespread use of microchips as employee IDs, things like that. Even over the period of time I’ve spent working on this story (a little over two years at this point) I’ve already seen some of the technology that I laughingly included as science “fiction” become or come close to being science fact, so who knows? The PRISM Conspiracy may not be as futuristic as I imagined while I was writing it. Either way, I hope it remains a fun story with an important truth at its core: namely, that human life is still valuable, no matter where technology takes it in the future. So, that’s the story of how a fantasy writer made an excursion into the realm of science fiction, and a technological ignoramus took a brief foray into the world of futuristic technology. It’s been fun! (But now if you’ll excuse me, I have a castle to storm.)” Excerpt from The PRISM Conspiracy: “Rory…” Abigail stared at the paper towels she held against the back of his hand, watching them turn dark red as his blood soaked into them. His blood. “Rory,” she said again, “what’s going on?” He was still holding his hand out in front of him, but his eyes were darting everywhere, faster than Abigail had ever seen them move before. A furrow appeared and deepened on his forehead, and his breathing began to quicken. His injured hand was shaking—no, Abigail realized, his entire body was shaking. She sat back on her feet as her mind screamed alarms at her and her thoughts spun out of control like a crashing helicopter. Maybe this wasn’t blood. Maybe it was…hydraulic fluid. Or coolant. Or something. It had to be! Some of it had gotten on her fingertips, and she held it close to stare at it. It certainly looked like real blood. There was a way to know for sure, she realized. At first, the thought turned her stomach—but she had to be sure, and she had to be sure right now. Cringing, she stuck out her tongue and tentatively touched it with her finger. She tasted salt and iron. “Oh my gosh…” Gagging, retching, she ran to the sink, scrubbed her hands, and rinsed out her mouth. For a moment after she shut the water off she stood over the sink, panting, water dripping from her lips, as realizations and memories began clicking together like puzzle pieces. Rory’s breathing. His eating. His eyes adjusting to light and dark. He looked so real. He adapted to her emotions. “I am the biggest, most gullible idiot on the entire planet.” For more inspiration you can find Mary at: https://www.facebook.com/authormaryschlegel/ https://www.instagram.com/maryschlegelauthor/ The post Guest Post: The PRISM Conspiracy appeared first on Gilded Octopus. View the full article
  6. GildedOctopusStudios

    Confession: I play more board games than Video

    For as much as I enjoy the ins and outs of building video games I’m a pretty casual player however when it comes to board games I put a lot of hours in. I think the biggest reason is that I tend to play board games with my SO and video games I generally play by myself. There just aren’t that many good two player video games out there that are balanced. Starcraft has a great two player mode and a decent balancing system for their vs mode. See that is the other problem with video games my SO has been playing them pretty actively since childhood/teen years. I’ve played them very casually off and on. Growing up with incredibly slow dial up limited my game options pretty considerably. Once I got into college I didn’t have much time to play but had people to play with and decent internet. So I started getting into video games little by little. Maybe it’s because for the most part I’ve never had great swaths of time to play but a video game has to be truly spectacular to keep my interest. It has to have great graphics, great story arcs, and fantastic characters. In other words it is rare for a favorite video game to be anything other than a RPG. I just love them so much. I’ve tried FPS and I’m currently very slowly working my way through a Halo game(I don’t remember which one exactly.) but they tend to give me a little bit of vertigo. The one type of video game that I love more than RPG’s are VR games. They are just so cool. Unfortunately the good rigs are so expensive. My first real experience with VR was with google card board. I actually made a game with a few other people for a class project for it. Once I tried an Oculus rift though I was hooked and have wanted one ever since. I really started getting into board games because I kept buying them as presents for my SO. We would play them, enjoy them, and then next holiday I would get him another one. The first one I got him was Dead of Winter. A spectacular board game about fighting zombies and trying to survive in the winter. I’ve played so hours of it. So yeah I enjoy both video games and board games but play far more of the later. It is pretty ironic considering how much I enjoy how video games work and creating them. The post Confession: I play more board games than Video appeared first on Gilded Octopus. View the full article
  7. GildedOctopusStudios

    Programming for the Non-Programmer

    So your child or friend or spouse has come out as a programmer. What do you do? Do you throw out all the electronics in the house? No by the time they’ve told you they’re probably already hooked for life. The good news though is that most programmers can lead normal semi-healthy lives and even have relationships. The first thing to do is to talk to your programmer. All joking aside you don’t need to have an intervention just a friendly chat about why they are interested in programming. If it’s just for Minecraft mods then there is a chance you just have a budding gaming nerd on your hands and not a full fledged programmer. I do know several people who got into programming through doing mods but I know more who made a mod or two and then went back to playing Minecraft. Anyone who programs for a living generally has a pretty deep seated passion for it. There is a pretty strong requirement to continually learn in the field. Anyone who doesn’t tends to fall behind or burn out. That is the other thing a decent percentage of programmers burn out and become managers, marketers, or just move in to completely different fields all together. If you don’t have that passion you tend to burn out faster. It’s not really a career you can just do for the money very easily or for very long. Don’t get me wrong the money is very good. It’s not going to make you a millionaire good but you’ll always be very comfortable. It is steady work and generally very easy to find in most parts of the world with some exceptions. If your programmer is enough of an entrepreneur or persuasive they may be able to finagle the sort of situation where they can literally work anywhere they have internet. Full-time from home is still pretty uncommon but a lot of companies allow several days a week. That is the other thing it is a very flexible sort of career offering many options for working from home part of the time, flexible hours, and a great many other benefits. If your programmer ends up working for a company that employees a large number of programmers generally the perks are quite nice and the company pampers their programmers quite a bit. See programmers now a days tend to move companies pretty often every 2-5 years is not uncommon. It is the easiest way to get promoted and get better benefits. So the more programmers a company needs generally influences them to have better perks in-order to retain and recruit programmers. So how do you help and encourage them to really give this new passion their all? Making sure they have a decent computer is a great start. They don’t need a tip top of the line gaming laptop necessarily but expect to pay $600+ for a decent laptop. Oh and it will probably need to be replaced every 5 years or so. If you can’t afford that just make sure they have access to a computer. After all it’s really hard to do programming without a computer as a beginner programmer. Then there are a wide variety of books you could purchase and leave laying around for them to find. There are enough variety in them that picking them out will probably be an entire post to its self in the future. Classes, this is the expensive one. It’s great because they can get a lot of experience and knowledge they wouldn’t otherwise and possibly a degree or certification as well. It has a few down sides though. They tend to be quite expensive as in the several thousand dollar range. Also they are only as good as whoever is teaching them. Sometimes is someone who just wants to share their passion for programming and sometimes it is someone who has burnt out of industry. Now you have a few tips for how to encourage your budding programmer as well as a short explanation of the benefits of a career in programming. These days being a geek or nerd can be quite profitable. Programming is an excellent career choice and one that I am so glad I got into. It has had so many benefits in my life. The post Programming for the Non-Programmer appeared first on Gilded Octopus. View the full article
  8. GildedOctopusStudios

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

    Thank you. So I saw a pretty decent spike the first day or so I used it but after that I haven't had much success with it. Honestly what is working for me right now is publishing blog posts on here and Gamasutra. SEO is proving to be a bit of a let down for me personally.
  9. GildedOctopusStudios

    Getting into Concept-Writing, Strategy or Consulting

    You could always try to leverage your background in marketing and do marketing or fundraising for games. Your best bet to start out would be to find a partner who is making games and in need of more publicity or funding. Most indie games don't have a lot of funding and could always use more publicity.
  10. GildedOctopusStudios

    How to find freelancers?

    Upwork is another option.
  11. GildedOctopusStudios

    The Delicious Pseudocode of an English Muffin

    Thank you for your kind words:)
  12. GildedOctopusStudios

    What is a Word worth?

    It's geared towards professional programmers and it is very comprehensive so if that is your goal the more things on that list you can learn the better but I don't think that's your goal. I think your goal is to become good enough to make games in which case take the categories that you think you need for the type of game you are making. For the record I'm mostly at 2-3 but there are some that I'm at 0-1 and I've worked as a professional programmer before on some mega expensive projects. I even had a coding internship at a fortune 500 company. So don't feel bad that you're just starting out.
  13. GildedOctopusStudios

    What is a Word worth?

    It may not seem like it now but the theory is honestly a lot easier to understand and implement once you have some programming experience. This project you're working on will teach you things about programming that you don't even realize. When you get to the point where you have some time to work on learning the theory and the next set of skills you will understand it so much better. One resource I like to check my progress with every so often is the programmer competency matrix https://sijinjoseph.com/programmer-competency-matrix/. It gives you a great road map for what other things you can focus on learning and what things you are starting to have a handle on.
  14. GildedOctopusStudios

    Implementing SEO in Video Games

    So we all know Google and other search engines use a variety of optimization techniques. How does that apply to video games? Well the classic example is the shortest path problem. You want your AI whether it be enemies or NPC’s to take the shortest path to the player or some other goal. The way to accomplish that dynamically is to use a search algorithm. The first thing you need to know when implementing this sort of algorithm is how to set up the problem. There are essentially 3 variations you need to worry about single-source shortest path problem, single-destination shortest path problem, and all-pairs shortest path problem. The first one is essentially you have a starting location and you are trying to find a route to every other place on the map. The second is basically the opposite of the first. You are trying to find the shortest path from all possible starting locations to a single end point. The last one is both combined. You are trying to find the shortest rout between all possible starting and ending locations. Now you have a variety of options for algorithms Dijkstra’s, Bellman-Ford, A*, as well as a few others that I’m not going to get into. The first two are excellent algorithms but the benefit of using the A* Search Algorithm in video games is that it adjusts for a heuristic(basically a rule or sort of hunch of which direction to go). Now this is where you can really let your creativity shine when it comes to AI characters. You can make some of them move more optimally. You can make them become stunned or disoriented and move less optimally. You can even add in another goal or end condition. Now traditionally the heuristics are used to speed up the algorithm. You can use it for that perhaps routing over terrain that lets the AI move faster and is more likely to connect two points for example roads. The thing to remember though when you are implementing them is that it is up to you how you want use and/or modify the search algorithms. This can be a bit of a scary thing if it isn’t something you’ve done before. Personally it is something I love. I really enjoy writing custom algorithms for problems. I once got very frustrated at a hashing library in the middle of the night and wrote my own single direction hashing algorithm but that is a story for another time. Suppose you are wanting to use A* and you want to use the heuristic to actually optimize it. There are so many different heuristics you could use customized to your unique implementation. For example maybe because of the way your maps are designed there is a set max minimum distance between every two points say 9 squares, everything is normally within 9 squares of everything else. Well now you can use the heuristic to favor that search range. Maybe you know the direction the goal is in so you make your heuristic to favor paths that go in that direction. Now the problem with this is that if there is a problem with your heuristic it can throw off the entire algorithm. Heuristics are not the only way to optimize search algorithms. You can also use a technique called pruning. Which like pruning a plant or tree refers to cutting away branches or options that you already know won’t lead to your desired outcome. One example of it is Alpha-beta pruning which is an algorithm that seeks to limit the number of nodes searched by the Mini-Maxi algorithm. It is used for games against an opponent. Just because an algorithm was designed for a specific purpose doesn’t mean you can’t modify it to suit your specific needs. No one is judging you on how correct your implementation of a specific algorithm is. When considering how you can optimize your search algorithms you have a lot of options from setting up the problem in different formats, using different algorithms, heuristics, and pruning. Search Engines don’t release their algorithms but that doesn’t mean you can’t use some of the same techniques they do to improve your game. The post Implementing SEO in Video Games appeared first on Gilded Octopus. View the full article
  15. GildedOctopusStudios

    SEO Results: Day 1

    Thank you for the tip. I'm personally pretty interested in seeing how well SEO works from an algorithmic point of view since my past experience has been from the side of improving search algorithms. Google now supposedly has a level of contextual understanding which is super cool but I realize that this might not be the place to discuss it.
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