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About cowsarenotevil

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  1. I don't think this is a good analogy at all, to say nothing of it being "exactly the same." The strokes aren't so much "baked" into a texture as they are deliberately drawn onto the texture by an artist, whereas what you call "'proper' cartoon rendering" isn't even close to being a viable substitute for strokes drawn by a human artist. Especially in games that are based around an existing "2D" art style, right now I'd say that drawing strokes by hand is the only option. It'd be fascinating if someone could come up with something that could really consistently generate this type of imagery on the fly (and there's lots of research into this area), and there's no doubt that it would open up new doors, but so far this isn't a solved problem, so people need to (or choose to) work around those limitations. I mean, it's certainly a shame that you "can't" play those games, but lots of people skip games of all sorts due to weird biases like that. Is yours objectively more important?
  2. cowsarenotevil

    How much longer can Trump/Trumpism last?

    Well, that sure is a perspective. I, for one, think a lot of people would probably read a novel dedicated to why you think that. I can't promise I'd find it very convincing, but I'm sure it would be more entertaining than Atlas Shrugged, so, you know, you'll have a built-in audience made up of people who think Atlas Shrugged is the last novel that's been worth reading. In fact, there's probably a lot of overlap between those people and people who believe that western political philosophy hasn't advanced. (I was going to say "advanced since..." but you can't really go much farther back than Aristotle, so I guess I'll need to end on this particular anticlimax).
  3. cowsarenotevil


    Yeah, I agree with that completely. It's just that I'd be lying if I said there weren't days (or occasional periods a fair bit longer than that) when I wasn't just wasn't that enthusiastic about programming, and I think my life would have gone quite a bit differently if I'd said, "Huh, I don't feel like programming today. Time to quit forever, I guess." I certainly don't think that was the point of your post, but it did feel like the logical conclusion of taking it literally, and I just don't want anyone coming away thinking that programming isn't "for them" just because they occasionally don't want to do it.
  4. cowsarenotevil


    This is... actually not good advice at all, I think? Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're saying, but I'm pretty sure there are at least a few programmers who occasionally take a a break that lasts more than 24 hours, and saying that programming isn't "for them" to me sounds like the same kind of pointless elitism that leads to stuff like "real programmers only [write in some particular language/use some particular text editor/use some particular naming convention/etc.]" -- all fine, I guess, but in that case I think that fake programmers often make programs that are just as good or better than those made by real programmers.
  5. cowsarenotevil

    New SEGA Genesis Game!

    I've recently done a little bit of programming on the SEGA Genesis myself, and it's definitely an interesting experience. It's possible to do a lot of really interesting graphical effects even by cleverly abusing the video hardware. I've managed to make a little raycasting demo including (one) texture, and when I get the time I really want to turn it into a full game. Some of the most technically impressive things I've seen are in The Adventures of Batman and Robin, Toy Story, and Hard Drivin. I don't have links but they most impressive scenes are pretty easy to find on Youtube. I've been mildly interested in the SEGA CD myself, but I can attest that it seems so needlessly difficult compared to the basic console that I've never seriously looked into it. I also feel like the extra processing power is "cheating" a bit in terms of making 3D (or 3D-ish) graphics so it's not really a huge draw for me anyway. The only "retro" console I can think of that might be even more difficult is the SEGA Saturn, which seems utterly incomprehensible to me. And yeah, it's super interesting to compare developing on this to using modern hardware. On one hand, the lack of dynamic memory allocation, the inability to draw directly to the screen, limited color palates, etc. are not things we need to worry about about when programming on modern hardware. On the other hand, the separation between the general purpose CPU and more specialized but faster video hardware doesn't really feel fundamentally different from how things work now, even if the specifics are very far apart. Yes, this is very much true. There's a really nice library that I've used called SGDK. In addition to the functionality it provides, it happens to be written almost entirely in C as well, so it's not hard to modify and makes a good reference as well.
  6. This is interesting to me, since in my estimation The Last of Us and The Evil Within are pretty similar in terms of violence, and with most of The Evil Within's violence being against things that aren't even "real." That said, I do think violence is often used as a crutch in place of things that are scary on a deeper level. Like I mentioned above, I actually do think puzzles have an especially good relationship with horror, but are there any other mechanics that you feel are especially relevant to horror? One of my favorite horror experiences was in the original Tomb Raider. It was frightening enough when a giant tyrannosaurus appears out of nowhere and eats you in one hit in a game that didn't even involve dinosaurs up to that moment. What really scared me was that later on, the tyrannosaurus music started playing for no reason (due to what I can only imagine was a bug), but the tyrannosaurus never actually showed up, so I was just left waiting for a long time, wondering when it would appear. I think the genre may have declined a little bit over the past couple of years, but I think horror games are actually much more popular now than they were, say, ten years ago.
  7. I love horror games. I have to admit that I don't actually play a huge number of them, since I'm usually pretty content to watch videos of other people playing them (plus it makes it easier to analyze what works well and why), but if there's one that really stands out I'll make a point of actually playing it myself, preferably before I know too much about it. I couldn't possibly pick just one, but two of my recent favorites are P.T. and Doki Doki Literature Club. I think the thing that impressed me the most about both of these is how well-executed they are. Neither one of them are fully original -- even Doki Doki Literature Club's best twists have mostly already been done before in some form -- but the fact that they fully commit to what they're doing (albeit in different ways) makes them sets them apart. I think they're both worth playing for yourself if possible, although unfortunately P.T. is very difficult to get your hands on. I'm super lucky that I got a chance to actually play it. Fortunately, watching videos of it is a pretty good substitute, since the interactivity is pretty limited (that's actually true of Doki Doki Literature Club as well, but fortunately that game is readily available and free). I'm also a big fan of games that occasionally do something completely inexplicable, such that it's uncanny and jarring even within the main game world. Players can prepare themselves for monsters/jumpscares/etc. if they're expecting them, which might limit their effectiveness, but throwing something that's just so weird and out of place that the player couldn't possibly have expected it is almost always powerful. P.T. had some especially good examples of this: listen closely at 3:14, for example. I'm not actually sure that the choice of environment matters at all, as long as it fits the game's story and aesthetic. For example, I do not believe that Doki Doki Literature would have been scarier if it had taken place somewhere else, and there's certainly nothing inherently scary about its actual setting. Quite the opposite, in fact. That said, I do think setting is critically important to a good horror experience, but I think most of the energy should be dedicated to making the world seem interesting, beautiful, and relevant to the story, rather than to making it "scary" in some generic way. Two of my favorite environments are in Riven and INSIDE (neither of which are strictly horror games but have a few genuinely frightening moments), since they help tell the story in a very literal way (almost everything in the environment exists for a reason and tells the player something about the story), along with being just incredibly good looking. I actually tend to like the classics, e.g. ghosts, aliens, spiders, skeletons etc., and I think now might be a good time to start featuring these in games, now that they've largely fallen out of favor and are thus no longer boring/predictable. Much like environments, though, I think it's possible to make almost anything scary when done correctly. Likewise, even the most innately frightening characters can be rendered stupid and non-threatening if executed poorly. In real life, definitely, but they sometimes don't work quite as well in a video game, since it can be frustrating if they're hard to navigate. I think it's generally best to use a maze as something mostly aesthetic (and also not too challenging to traverse) rather than a challenging gameplay element in itself. I'm also not really a fan of those procedurally generated mazes/environments, since I'd much rather have a curated experience that someone put deliberate thought into than a randomized maze that turns out just to be the same five models repeated over and over again. Yes, in fact, I think they might be one of the only gameplay mechanics that are particularly suited to a "pure" horror experience, because they leave you completely unable to defend yourself and at the mercy of whoever designed the puzzles in the first place. Most other common mechanics empower the player in a way that can give a sense of safety. Plus, puzzles require a lot of focus and are especially good at completely distracting the player's attention from, for example, something sneaking up on you from the shadows.
  8. cowsarenotevil

    Why A.I is impossible

    I'm actually fairly optimistic that a "definitive" answer not only exists but might even be known in the next hundred years, if advances in AI and technology in general continue at a good pace, precisely because I think we can provide meaningful evidence for or against the possibility of a "philosophical zombie." If we can make a complete computer model of the human mind, then the only "difficult" problem is finding where, in that model, this notion of "subjective experience" actually comes from. A daunting task, for sure, but not necessarily an impossible one. It's already practical to use formal verification systems to prove things about models of certain biological systems, so I can imagine asking some modeled human mind whom I'll call Mr. Robot to attempt to describe "subjective experience," and then work backwards to study the processes and structures that lead to him discussing subjective experience. It's tough to say how satisfying such an answer will be, or exactly what other interesting conclusions we can derive from it, but this knowledge would at least be sufficient to rule out the idea that subjective experience is something external to the mind (or at very least to rule out that the subjective experience we can talk about, or that otherwise affects our behavior, is external to the mind). This would not, strictly speaking, rule out the possibility that Mr. Robot is a philosophical zombie, but the alternative leaves us stuck in a really weird place: we studied the brain, found out precisely why we can talk about philosophical zombies in the first place, only for this to actually be completely unrelated to real philosophical zombies. At this point, we'd absolutely never be able to study or analyze real philosophical zombies, because by assumption we literally cannot talk about them at all. On the other hand, if subjective experience actually turns out to really be something external to the mind (e.g. some kind of weird quantum behavior that's not computable and can't be modeled at all), I expect that that would become fairly clear as well -- as our ability to model physical systems and AI improves, I can only imagine it'll become increasingly clear where this "breakdown" occurs. That is, I imagine that the more "mind-like" things we can model computationally, the better hope we'll have of discovering exactly what portion of a real mind we can't model. Obviously this second case would be "nice" in that it suggests that there might be life after death, that humans really are "special," and that we don't have to feel guilty about experimenting on poor Mr. Robot because he doesn't really feel pain. I of course have no reason to think these things aren't true, they're just not scientifically useful until they can be used to make falsifiable predictions that differentiate them from the "brains are just computers" version -- which is something we get for free if we do discover a specific reason why we can't model a human mind computationally.
  9. cowsarenotevil

    Why A.I is impossible

    I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I agree that using the word "qualia" brings an implication of something more than simply "subjective experience," and I think that this adds yet another not-necessary-useful level of specificity to a concept that's already difficult to pin down. On the other hand, I still think that's pretty tough to talk about "subjective experience" on its own as well -- that is, in a way that actually distinguishes "subjective experience" as a concept from the physical and functional processes of the brain. There's a popular notion of a "philosophical zombie" that's defined as something that either recreates the physical processes of the brain, or emulates the functional processes of the brain, but without subjective experience. This seems like a good starting point for actually describing subjective experience, but I also think it's a potential trap: even though it's (at least sort of) possible to imagine such a zombie, it's not necessarily the case that such an entity could actually exist. For instance, it's totally possible to "imagine" some statement in formal logic, only to realize that the statement contains a contradiction. Basically, I think it's difficult to distinguish "qualia" from "subjective experience," but it's also surprisingly hard to distinguish "subjective experience" from "no experience at all," so I don't think dropping the notion of "qualia" really gets us much further.
  10. cowsarenotevil

    Why A.I is impossible

    Sure. All I'm saying is that there's a tremendous difference between assuming you won't fall into a black hole tomorrow and proving that it's impossible to fall into a black hole. Like I said before, I'm not even comfortable describing this kind of conjecture about consciousness as a theory, simply because it currently doesn't make any predictions that can be falsified. This is in contrast to other theories, like theories of gravity, which at least make predictions that can actually be measured. And even so, it's still impossible to actually prove that gravity works in a particular way. In fact, it's not even possible to say that gravity is likely to behave in some particular way, due to the problem of induction. I'm not aware of any claims that quantum processes aren't possible inside the mind. Isn't the argument more that there's no reason to believe that non-deterministic processes actually have a macroscopic effect on human behavior? To me, the problem with qualia as a concept is that it appears to be self-evident, rather than being something that can be derived logically or measured empirically. For this reason, it's unfortunately really hard to argue that qualia, which is essentially defined as any subjective experience that is distinct from the actual mechanical behavior of the brain, actually exists at all. For instance, I could just claim that all laptop computers experience "zualia," which, like qualia, cannot be explained in terms of a desktop computer, but that doesn't necessarily imply that there is, or needs to be, some other way of explaining "zualia." It also certainly doesn't imply that it's impossible to build a desktop computer that truly simulates a laptop computer. It would be different if we could actually identify and measure a specific set of behaviors that is unique to laptops, but so far, this hasn't been done. Likewise, if there is something that conscious humans can do that Turing machines can't, no one has found it yet. I also think that the notion that qualia is somehow based on quantum effects, or indeed anything that can't be described in terms of a Turing machine, doesn't really help to explain qualia, either. The idea that some behavior that can't be described computationally is able to affect our mind in such a way that we're actually able to refer to it is pretty weird. It would be one thing for these processes to affect our behavior in some subtle, difficult-to-describe ways, but having these processes actually affect our behavior in such a precise manner that the physical portion of our brain can actually reference those processes themselves and reason about them symbolically would seem to require some very complex machinery indeed.
  11. cowsarenotevil

    Why A.I is impossible

    Except not really, at all. It's tough to argue that his claims even meet the standard for being a theory (falsifiability), much less that they're something with any hope of being proven deductively. The conjecture that a human mind can be simulated by a Turing machine is just the Church-Turing thesis, and so far there haven't been any serious challenges to it. This isn't to say that Penrose's ideas about consciousness aren't interesting, or even that they're not (potentially) true, it's just that there are a lot of assumptions encoded in them, and many of those assumptions are actually pretty weird and not widely accepted. They're certainly not rigorous, either. In my opinion, the weirdest (but certainly not only) such assumption is actually in the text you reprinted about the incompleteness theorem. It's a personal pet peeve of mine to see people abuse this theorem (which is completely rigorous) to make non-rigorous claims about "consciousness" (or anything, really). In fact, I'd say that asserting that human minds have access to some kind of magic logic that cannot, by assumption be described formally, and then arguing from that to claim that Turing machines (which are, of course, describable by formal logic, since that's the whole point of them) must be "missing" something is roughly the mother of all circular arguments. How do you even argue that such a magic logic exists? You can't do it formally, by assumption. So what is even the point?
  12. cowsarenotevil

    Why A.I is impossible

    I feel like this argument is correct in broad strokes, but a bit imprecise. To clarify, decidability, computational complexity, and "one-way functions" are all distinct things. Factoring is treated like a one-way function, because checking whether a group of numbers are factors of a particular number is trivial (and consequently has low complexity), but there is no known way of factoring an arbitrary number with a comparable time complexity. Interestingly, it has not been proven that one-way functions even exist at all, to say nothing of whether factoring in particular is a one-way function. Factorization isn't undecidable, though. It's totally possible to program a universal Turing machine to factor a number in a way that it's always correct, even if it works slowly. For an undecidable problem, such as the halting problem, it is actually impossible to program a machine to solve it in a way that is always correct.
  13. cowsarenotevil

    Game design career interview questions

    I think Maya is the best bet in general. I'm pretty sure it's the most popular package for this kind of thing, and it seems to have the best support by major game engines (Unreal, Unity) as well. That said, your best bet is to look at teams/companies that you're specifically interested in, and see what they use. I also don't think learning a new package is quite as critical as some people would want you to believe. I started at my current job (which is in fact at a very large company) with essentially negligible Maya experience (I didn't have a personal copy of it and still don't) but many years of experience with Blender, and I picked up Maya without much conscious effort just by being around people who are comfortable with it, and now I use it every day. I'm more of a technical artist, so I'm more comfortable with the API/design of Maya than I am with the actual hotkeys, etc. needed to model efficiently, but I can model in it without completely embarrassing myself. For more advanced modeling/texturing I usually jump back into Blender. I don't think anyone really cares what package you use as long as a) you actually get your work done, b) your work is good, and c) you're willing to take on the responsibility of making sure your stuff plays nicely with whatever the rest of your team uses. That said, learning another package can only increase your usefulness. On the other hand, if you need to choose between either learning how to use Maya or having a good portfolio (even if it's Blender-only), focus on your portfolio first.
  14. cowsarenotevil

    Why A.I is impossible

    I don't think I was actually disagreeing with you, in that I'm definitely not saying that being able to refer to consciousness is necessary for having it. I'm also not claiming that consciousness as a metaphysical thing does (or does not) actually exist. If I do disagree, it's only partially with the statement that "it's only an assumption of me that other people than me have consciousnesses." Of course it is impossible by definition to (directly) verify someone else's subjective experience, so you can't be sure that other people experience consciousness the same way that you do. But if consciousness is some metaphysical thing, it'd at least be weird (or coincidental) for lots of other people to talk about "consciousness" when you're the only one who actually has it. That is, if other people than you do have consciousness, then we can plausibly all talk about it, and everything is good. If other people than you don't have consciousness, then you can potentially talk about it, but all of the other people who talk about their own "consciousness" must actually be talking about something else, even though we all seem to be talking about roughly the same thing. You're absolutely right that a program that just prints "I have consciousness" also appears to be talking about consciousness, but since other people were presumably not programmed (at least not by you) to do this, it seems at least difficult to explain why they'd make such a statement in the absence of a conscious entity external to you. This again assumes that consciousness isn't an illusion -- if it's an illusion, then of course we all could be (falsely) claiming to have it for the same reason.
  15. cowsarenotevil

    Why A.I is impossible

    Why not because they can talk about it? As you point out, your own consciousness (insofar as that's a thing that exists at all) is self-evident to you, but when you talk about it, are you actually referring to it? If so, then it would, at least, be pretty implausible that other people would appear to talk about their own consciousness if it weren't something that they themselves also actually have. If not, then there's some even weirder coincidence afoot: you experience consciousness, but when you talk about your own consciousness, you're actually talking about something different than the consciousness you actually experience. Basically, either consciousness manifests itself physically to the extent that people are at least able to refer to it in speech and writing, or it doesn't, meaning we can't actually refer to it at all despite the fact that we appear to be discussing it. In the former case, the fact that people outside of your own perception of consciousness claim to refer to consciousness would suggest that they too actually can refer to it, and thus experience it in some way. In the latter case, either it's pure coincidence that we merely appear to be discussing a phenomenon that actually exists (but cannot actually be discussed), or consciousness doesn't exist at all.
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