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About Luckless

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    Finder of Random Bugs

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  1. A Common Thread

    Kavik, who exactly is this "You" you are referring to that is insisting that table top games aren't relevant to what "We" do. I've been professionally involved with hundreds of software/app/web titles, and board games have played a pretty large part of developing many of them. Of the titles I've been involved with from the ground up, probably half started out with hand drawn pieces on card stock with. They are especially important in early planning stages for anything top down and strategy related, as a group of designers can sit around a table together and talk through ideas in an afternoon rather than spending days/weeks/months prototyping the mechanics in code. But I've seen them used for pretty near any style of game I can think of, even FPS titles. Just the more abstract from a boardgame view the final game is, the more imagination is needed by the test players to judge how the end product is going to feel. If the planning and thought process to play a game works well with a pen and paper, then odds are good it will hold up when the computer crunches all the numbers for you, but as a designer you need to watch out for issues like time-decision overloads if 'turns' are running forward in real time for the end user rather than running in 'bullet time' because you're slowly juggling all the numbers and tracking by yourself.
  2. A Common Thread

    We really need to be careful when comparing "One main designer" and "Design by committee" results, and compare apples to apples. If you compare the work of a skilled, experienced, and highly successful designer to that what a group of kindergartners on excessive sugar and coffee come up with, then you're not going to have a very fair time and get a rather biased outcome, much like you would if you sat a group of seasoned designers down and compared their work with that of a single sugar and caffeine pumped kid. Another important factor when gauging the skill of a designer is whether or not they've worked within the project budget - And that is not just a cash value thing, but also a skill issue. What are the overall skills of the team and what are they actually able to achieve? You can have the most graceful and flawless mechanic and visual designs ever planned, but they're not worth much if the team you're working with doesn't have the skills and resources to do everything to spec by launch day. And of course there is the wonderful issue of design complexity, and confusing it for quality: A more detailed and more complex design is not a sign of it being superior, it is a sign of it being more detailed and complex. A mechanical power transfer mechanism with a million intermeshed pieces all working together to transfer rotational energy from a motor to some manner of tool is "Extremely detailed and complex", but odds are it is vastly inferior to a handful of suitably designed gears/cogs. You can run the maths and calculate out all the gravitational forces in the entire solar system to get a "Perfectly accurate simulation" of where every grain of dust will be over the next 10 years, but if all you really wanted was "Where abouts would Mars be..." then you've wasted a lot of time and effort on details that simply didn't matter. A huge part of a game designer's job, whether we're talking about computer or board games, is distilling out the essence of the design and using the parts that are actually needed while discarding those that are merely distractions, and doing so in a way that is readily understood and enjoyed by the player. And when it comes to board games this can become an exercise in information presentation. The last version of RISK rules I read were a great example of "Close, but no cigar" design presentation. I'm specifically thinking of the reinforcement mechanic rules, which frankly were a mess. (Trying to relearn a game's rules when you have a 10 year old hopped up on sugar interrupting and insisting they 'know the rules' is a 'fun' holiday experience.) The information could have been far clearer if done in a more point form format with a small table, but instead they give some long and slightly awkward paragraphs describing the mechanic in a general sense that also ends up burying the minimum reinforcement rate somewhere. - At the very least you should start off a rule's section with what the minimum standard of what a player should expect every turn, and then expand on it from there.
  3. A Common Thread

    So where is a shipped title that is 'centuries' ahead of anything we are apparently doing that I can check out? I deal with QA and UX, and am always happy to check out new content doing things I may not have seen before. I for one am amused that "We" are the arrogant ones, and yet you somehow have not only learned centuries worth of knowledge, but have even managed to learn and then forget more beyond that, and there is no way any of us could possibly catch up? - Would YOU want to hire someone acting as arrogant as that to work with? Also do you have any more information on Magic Maze?
  4. Is there a "Report user Profile" functionality I missed somewhere? The ones in question had no posts or messages or anything I could find with a report button linked to it, and I'm not seeing one on their profile pages. Figured a post was the easiest way to bring it up, and the "Follow a user with zero other visible action" that seemed weird and new to me for a bot's actions. Hadn't seen that behaviour in a bot before as an opening move. On a semi-unrelated note, blog posts on bot activity on the site would be rather interesting to read if anyone on staff has the time and desire to write such things, but sadly that also sounds like the kind of info bot writers could use to fuel their creativity.
  5. Noticed a pair of rather random looking new users started following me out of the blue this week. New accounts, no posts or activity and both [FirstName][Initial][LastName] username formats, and looking a tad 'bottish' - Figured I would toss a post up on the off chance there is something more suspicious going on with the site as a whole, but could totally just be random chance and totally unrelated to anything. No idea what they might be up to if they are bots. Just seemed mildly suspicious for some reason.
  6. A Common Thread

    A bit confused by the purpose or goal of the thread... Of all the designers I've worked with, or have talked about with others who have worked directly with them, I can't think of ANY who didn't generally get a group discussion going to look at things from different angles and get a back and forth. Designs are hard, and feedback helps refine ideas or inspire new ones. I can't even think of a Solo developer who really does everything totally on their own for a proper released game. Friends or family or even community typically gets involved in the discussion and refinement process.
  7. An important point to remember when considering the "How" of organizing a planned economy is that it does not need to be 'perfect', it needs to be reliable, fair, and aimed towards meeting needs and desires over the long term. Maybe we'll end up splitting all production up into classes, basic needs, basic luxuries, advanced luxuries, or some more refined grouping. Basic needs include things like food, food production, and food distribution, with a focus towards "Local First" and an aim to always produce a surplus that can be stored or composted. Resources aren't released towards luxuries/entertainment production until basic food and medical needs are met. Put everything on digital ration, and issue everyone sets of points that they can spend. As you buy stuff you can go back and flag and rate the things you bought - "I will want more of this: Daily/Weekly/Monthly/Would like again in the future|very important/nice to have", "Product quality is good/bad/whatever", etc, and allow the system to build up data to work on and aid planning. If strawberries are proving exceedingly popular during a bad season, then issue a notice and raise their ration price to encourage people to choose other options, or decrease the price of something in surplus and otherwise low demand. Points for more recreational things can be on a different system, effectively its own currency with its own economy isolated from "Basic needs" - If production levels are high, then assign more points for people to spend. Chile was working towards a computer aided economy system back in the 70's with the Project Cybersyn thing, and we have the technology to go well beyond what they could back then. A system also doesn't need to be global, or even completely national. I think it is perfectly reasonable to break such a society down into very regional blocks, and have representatives from those blocks working together to see that needs and desires of the citizens are met. Does region A have manufacturing capacity to handle stuff for B? Does B have mining output to feed A's factories? What routes should expansions of transit lines be focused on? You also don't strictly need "Everyone is perfectly equal and gets the same thing", and the concept of classes is still overall viable to ensure the "Encouragement to work hard" remains that so many want to harp on about. Society would just have to build a class system that is A: Not excessively wide, and B: Reasonably mobile. If you just want to finish high school and sit around watching TV all day, then personally I say take your basic-life ration account, and enjoy a tiny quiet apartment somewhere. At any time you could decide you've had enough of sitting on your ass and access more education or training and move up to a 'better class' with more responsibilities and expectations from society.
  8. How to design linear forest levels in videogames?

    I would suggest a camping trip with a camera and note book if at all possible. Spend some time hiking and looking at elements of real environments, and try to pick out elements that catch your eye. But some design tricks to get a 'natural' look and feel to a narrow woodland environment can include tricks like: - Movement Resistive Vegetation: By using a 'soft edge' to your zone of increasing scrubby bushes, you can allow your player to 'step off the path' a bit, and not feel like they're being completely railroaded. As they try to get deeper, forward progress away from the trail becomes slower and slower, but if you turn back towards the trail you are quickly 'released' and can make ready headway back towards where you expect them to be. - By lowering the resistance of 'getting back out of the bush' as compared to diving into it, you will likely find players fairly naturally come back to the obvious 'trail' to the level while not feeling overly restricted. You can keep the 'centre' of the linear level only a few feet wide, but still let the user wander and try to sneak by parts, or otherwise offer a feeling of 'space' within the confined level. - Carefully manage turns and density of vegetation, and use to to manage a sense of being lost or not. Want the player to feel like they know where they are? Then be consistent with things like moss on trees, keep a clearly defined path in the middle, and a visible landmark like a mountain or noteable tree to one side, and don't take a turn sharper than 45 degrees. Want to promote a more "I'm lost" feeling? Then let the 'path' fade in the middle, scatter the 'edge brush' across a wider area, and then put in a sharp hair pin turn. You'll strip the player of their landmark of "The big mountain was to my left when I'm moving 'forward' down the trial.
  9. And I for one do not buy the Luddite "Smash the Machines!" approach to preserving employment all for the sake of maintaining a barely functional economic model. - Why should it be the expectation that so many in the world should work 40+ hours a week for someone else's profit while they themselves struggle to keep lights on, feed themselves, and maintain a comfortable space to live? In all honesty, why should I care if my neighbour stays home watching TV all day while I go out and do a job I'm passionate about and care for, assuming that neighbour isn't making a mess or having a negative impact on my own life? We are approaching a point in history where humans can universally devote their lives to arts and sciences, and where labour is done out of choice rather than economic necessity. One where people choose to build wooden boats by hand, not because it is economically superior to something built by a robot in a factory, but because building a wooden boat with hand tools is fun.
  10. Well, if we do develop a general AI able to handle creative reasoning on par with a human, and cheaply deploy robotics that are on par or better than human dexterity (Which we're nearly at now), then exactly what kind of job do you expect a human would be more suited to than a synthetic employee? (a synthetic who doesn't have rights, and was programmed to quietly do their job without demanding things like breaks, vacation, pay, etc.) Game development is already seeing a reduction in labour for end result - It can be hard to see on the face when you look at team sizes remaining fairly high overall, but don't forget how much more content and detail those teams are producing now as compared to ten years ago. Middleware reuse and flexibility of boxable systems freed up a lot of labour in game development, but we're seeing more and more tool automation allowing an individual to do more with their time, which means we need fewer people overall to finish the same product as compared to the tools and methods we were using before. The fact that the hardware allows more on screen content for a given run-time period is honestly doing a hell of a lot to keep employment levels from dropping too dramatically in the games sector as can be seen with what is being done with small teams producing simpler titles than the bleeding edge AAA games. - How large would development teams be today if early 3D graphics had proved to be 'just a fad', and the market demand had stuck with SNES level complexity while the hardware continued on as it had? Complex motion capture setups for animation, and all the work it takes to clean the raw data up, is at risk of being replaced with goal based AI - Rather than dealing with a mo-cap setup, actors, and animators doing cleanup work, the process can start with an animator clicking around a screen and timeline generating goal-points, and the AI wireframe generator fills in the details. (Basically condensing the wisdom and experience of dozens of human animators over years of work into a neat little reusable package that a single animator can fine tune to specific needs.) So, we as society can stick our heads in the sand and pretend that everything will be fine, or we can step up and start having a real discussion on addressing issues of how we are all going to live and be able to enjoy life.
  11. But being "Open to abuse" is not remotely unique to a shared collective. Current western markets are already being abused, often fairly openly, and we no only allow people to get away with the abuse, but we'll even have our governments bail them out when things go bad "For the good of the economy". Imagine if a group of hackers made their way into banking systems? What if a group got together and started calling seniors to tell them their computer is infected and needs remote access to be cleaned up, and then proceed to steal financial info? No system will ever be free from corruption or abuse, but rather we, as a society in general, need to develop systems that limit the potential of abuse, and people's ability to get away with it. - If everyone in a nation agrees to sets of standards of living, then it becomes a bit hard to hide the fact you're abusing things if you're reaching well above those standards where your neighbours can see you.
  12. The theories I've read that sound remotely practical would run along the lines of the government owns all the companies/production collectives/Associations, and that individuals would own their general personal property. So you own your computer, your clothes, the stuff in your house, and the house you live in. However the factory producing those computers? That is owned "By the Government", or more specifically owned "By Everyone", much like publicly traded companies are owned by their shareholders, except everyone gets one share in it, and there are exactly as many shares as there are people. But the real kicker for a modern adoption of a public ownership system is that we have two key things working in our favour: 1. Hindsight on how things rather clearly Don't work, so we can be pretty sure that a dictator ruling by force of arms is 'probably a very bad idea' as compared to a carefully planned democratic transition. 2. Communication, tracking, and computer aided systems aren't what they were last century. When it comes to things consumer goods, we are now in a far better position to gauge demand - Think of an Amazon like system, expect rather than only ordering stuff that's currently in stock you could also post something along the lines of "Yes, this product is something I will/would want in the future" - Rather than dozens or even hundreds of companies guessing how many of a given thing they should make, a centralized (computer aided) production/logistics chain could more closely tailor production to demand. - If literally EVERYONE wanted a NES classic, then the factory(s) are tooled up to meet demand, and production of various goods get assigned suitable priority. (We don't expand NES classic production factories into a space used to make parts for MRI machines if there are shortages of MRIs in hospitals kind of thing. And we don't tool up an entire factory to meet demand for a product that only a few dozen people want if they could be built less efficiently in a flexible workshop over a longer period of time.) Eh, the problem with the advancement of technology and robotics is that where previous advances opened up new job sectors, we're not really seeing the "New job creation" - When steam engines and water wheels replaced much of the grunt work for metal smithing jobs, we were then able to create far more jobs in the new field of machining. As early machines replaced workers in mills, we created jobs to repair and build those machines, move the products, sell them, and repair the items made. As electronics expanded we made new jobs in media, camera operators, managers, etc. So the 'problem' is that the jobs advanced robotics could be expected to open up, such as repairing robots, isn't generating new jobs for humans as we're skipping right to a robot that can repair the other robots... And computers that will manage the robots, and we're even already getting into computers that are designing and programming the robots.
  13. If human life is a primary consideration, then why are there so many homeless and sick people in the US who do not receive the care and treatment that would allow them to lead long, happy, productive lives? Why should humans be forced to toil in misery doing jobs that could readily have been done with tools? Maybe rather than allowing nailguns in construction the US should go back to everyone swinging a hammer on a job site? - It would employ more people! Don't forget the electric drill, if they replace those with hand cranked ones then we would require even MORE humans to 'remain employed' to meet the construction industry's demands. Banning heavy machinery in mining would do wonders for employment levels...
  14. Don't forget the 'Robots' analyzing markets and productions to replace middle and even upper management positions. Robots replacing coders are looking more and more like a thing as well. In all honesty it is looking like there will potentially be more jobs lost to robots white collar jobs than there will be in things like strawberry picking. (For the simple reason that there is a lot more being invested in replacing those expensive high value jobs than there is being invested in tackling the issue of reliably picking strawberries, and the high cost to return price of buying any potential strawberry picker machine.)
  15. I wonder how many people would be willing to join a major company as an equal shareholder for the purpose of mining, fabrication, land management, scientific research, and the deployment of advanced robotics to minimize costs. Now imagine that sale of shares are banned, all shareholders have a single equal share, but all children are grandfathered in with a new share created for them, and any share is closed upon death of its holder. As a member you would be entitled to part of the over all production of the company based on a points system, (and a vote for various management and core decisions) and production itself is focused based on shareholder requests. If you change your mind on something, like not wanting the boat you bought with your share of points, or rather trade your old computer in for a newer model, you can take stuff to a company resale outlet in exchange for a few points to reuse. If you take on duties within the company you also get some extra points to spend. But I'm personally rather confused... where exactly does the bit where the CEO starts murdering people naturally begin?
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