Sci-Fi vs. Fantasy

I'm a sci-fi geek. If you want to be lewd about it, space ships and giant mechs make me wet. Strange thing is... so do swords and hot elven chicks. Someone once said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." I'd like to one up them, "Any sufficiently well explained magic is indistinguishable from technology."

During "The Prestige" they explain how a magician can make a bird disappear from a cage. Now at this point, has it become a technological feat, or is it still magic? What about concentrating cosmic forces into fireballs? Is there any functional difference between shooting laser beams out of a rifle and shooting them out of your palms?

The vast majority of stories that make it big in any real sense are the actually very, very old and formulaic. Certain things excite people, certain characters especially. Tell me if you've heard this before, "backwoods farm boy discovers great destiny/power too late to avert tragedy on the home front, vows to avenge tragedy on evil organization, surrounds themselves in a cast of quirky characters, a sage, a thief, a strongman, and a woman of courage and conviction." Yeah I was thinking of The first few wheel of time books too.

Point is your setting should not define the shape and flow of your story, that would be the writers job. Whenever one particular genre comes to the fore, it's just because someone in that genre hit the perfect storm of writing, publicity and timing. Considering how fickle and fleeting those tend to be, there isn't reason to be intimidated by it.


New Question

So yeah, getting the chance to read some Marvel comic books. This fills my mind with a single all-powerful question.

Is it really a requirement that in order to be a superhero, you must be completely asinine and so convinced of your sheer rightness in all things that it does not at any point occur to you that there can be another way out of the present situation besides engaging in some sort of superhero slugfest? I mean, yeah obviously we all can't get along, but isn't violence as a first resort a bad thing?

I get to sound smert, yay!

Jennifer cruise speaking to assembled generals on the results of the autopsy of unknown biological agent 02. (Thank god for wikipedia allowing me to sound like I have some clue what biologists and microbiologists might talk about.)

First slide please, thank you. All right gentlemen, the illustration you are seeing right now is to help you understand how the basic cellular structure of this creature functions. It's actually more useful to study the cells in blocks of five, as they seem to work together in units. One of the cells is photosensitive, while three of them are very generic capable of flexibly taking on structure required, it's the fifth that is most interesting though. The fifth unit in this structure, the Turin cell we're calling it, is rather complex for a cell and actually contains a limited set of logic.

I believe that this allows each set of five cells to function almost as a sub-organism. Of course cut off from the whole for any significant length of time, they will starve to death. While connected however they may automatically move into nearby areas of damage to repair the creature, or change the function of the connected cells to intelligently correct local deficiencies in the current form. Each small piece of the creature, then, is a simple part working together to automatically create most of the complex whole.

This is a close up the spinal column, the only area of the creature to show any pre-mortem trauma. I'm sure you recognize most of this next slide, as the figure you were just looking at, with a minor exception, a sixth cell. This sixth cell appears to be an Ependymal cell, these cells belong to the membrane, Ependyma, responsible for producing cerebrospinal fluid. The function of the other three cells is incredibly varied within my sample sets, making it a high probability that this area is responsible for the more complex functions such as thought and reasoning.

Why it cannot repair this area is still a mystery for the most part. Perhaps it requires the Ependymal cells to function and has access to a very limited set, perhaps it's individual pieces simply aren't intelligent enough to repair these areas. Now, any questions gentlemen?

I wouldn't rule that out, no. The likelihood of their developing from small spores is very low given their size and complexity. However due to their structural flexibility it can't be entirely discounted.

A symbiotic relationship would be very likely in my opinion, yes. A human body would provide ample nourishment and all the elements required for it's conception. At worst it would probably be confused with a tumor, but it's also entirely possible for it to slowly phase out the host's cells with it's own. This would be characterized by feeling paradoxically more healthy, while also seeming to loose control of your own body. Of course, this is all just theory at this point.

Ah, yes well it's entirely understandable in evolutionary terms. Although the organism would be truly immortal if it could repair this one small area of itself as well, that isn't what evolution does. Evolution has no design behind it, it has no goals, no agenda, it simply mutates existing organisms into something different. The organism is then forced to survive in a harsh environment, success means it's continuation as a species. If it succeeds so well as to forcibly consume enough resources to starve out another species, or gains so much advantage as to hunt them to extinction, it will cause the extinction of the "weaker" strains. So simply put, while this species is not immortal or perfect, it doesn't have to be, it simply needs to be better than us to prevent extinction.


rabble rabble rabble

For whatever reason I find myself in the mood to ramble on today.

It would seem that today is the day for holiday cheer and good tidings. Unfortunately you'll have to settle for the crushing weight of my ambivalence. Part of it is that I would classify myself as "spiritual but not religious" or something along those lines. Most of that is that I just don't spend my time worrying about deity. A loving deity will understand my drive to do good and reward me for it, and an unloving deity doesn't deserve my praise or attention. Instead I allocate my focus to actions and deeds, the part of any religion that should weigh most heavily on the thoughts of it's adherents.

What I see disturbs me. The religion of peace is locked in war with the religion of love, who in turn revels in fear and hate mongering. Major Christian religions support legislation against love, and our whole society still lacks any real devotion to unconditional love. This isn't the fault of any particular religion, or even religion in general, this is simply a fault in people. Every religion is purported to be founded on the principle of correcting that fault, yet most are caught up in tireless hubris, so convinced of their great purpose in changing the world outside them, they forget that their only role is to help this inside them.

I suppose I see no reason to celebrate the midwinter festival. I'm not a farmer whose life is in some way based around the seasons, nor do I worship the movements of celestial bodies. Perhaps, someday, when I feel that I'm with someone that I want to celebrate being with I may change my mind. I still won't ascribe it to the fake birth date, he was born in spring, of someone who tried to teach the world how to live a better life. If I feel the need to celebrate that, I'll do it by teaching people how to live better lives.

Something that has been on my mind lately is that if you're trying to help people you need to maintain focus on the message. A major problem with religious conversations is that people devolve into personal experiences and tend to approach the uncomfort zone of the person they are speaking to. The problem with that is that it's easy to attribute something to being "god's hand" in the situation, when to an outside observer, there are plenty of other just as plausible reasons for it to have happened the way it did. The message, though, is universal, do good to others, don't judge others, burn the heretics.


I wonder

There are times I wonder how I come across on this blog. I write so much that never actually makes it to the publish button. To me that says that those are probably things I feel particularly strong about. So I can't help but wonder how well that conveys my personality.

Do I come across as the kind of person who would reply to, "is the sky blue" with "probably..."? In real life I don't often make affirmative statements, or paint myself into an opinionated corner. Here, I'm not so sure.



Isobel knelt on the hard packed soil of the terrace, pulling out one of the weeds growing there. Keiro knelt next to her, a quizzical look on his face as he pulled one up himself. She sighed to herself, knowing that another silly question was coming.

"Highness, why are you out here pulling up weeds? The troops can easily handle such a task themselves," Kiero asks.

"And why shouldn't I" she replies.

"Well, it seems... undignified for someone of such a high position," he says.

"Kiero, do you know why we soldiers and knights wear veils?"

"That the we not taint the world with words born in blood."

"Up this mountain are people, good people, who would not kill anyone, not even if their lives depended on it. Many could not even fathom it, it is not something they have the heart for. We who fight are not members of that society, though we may bear their ranks, and eat at their tables, it is not our lot to be counted amongst them. We bear the burden of being their wall from those who would destroy them. Thus I am the equal of any soldier here in that, and no less responsible for taking part in the preparations for battle."

"But what about strategy meetings and planning, isn't that also preparation for battle?"

"But this is a strategy meeting. I am informing my troops that we are to fight on this terrace, and not give a single inch of ground. Besides, this is a perfect opportunity to survey the battleground."

Keiro gave her a hard look for a long moment before finally looking away.

"I heard that after this campaign you are planning to go up the mountain. Do you think I'll recognize you when you come back down?" She asked, changing the subject.

"Of course you will, it's not that great a change. Though I'm sure it'll take some getting used to." He replied, his mood noticeably lighter.

The two continued their happier discussion as they worked, and for a few hours the darkness of circumstance was settled in the back of their minds.


just stuff

Just some ideas that might take too long to work into anything real, but I feel like getting written down. If there is particular interest in the exploration of any given subject, leave some comments.

Person wakes up in a hospital, unable to remember their past, but with a perfect memory of everything that is about to happen.

A view from the inside of a severely autistic young girl, interpreting the real world around her through a fantasy world in her mind. (Would require more research, and may not be viable while still being applicable to the real world.)

Post Idea: Exploration of my main sci-fi plot, which revolves around the character Karen Tingan, in terms of how the plot has evolved from the initial ideas and concepts that founded it.

Off the wall romantic comedy about the queen of a small European country populated entirely by mimes, escaping her duties to be herself somewhere else and stumbling into the love of her life.

An over curious archaeological expedition accidentally closes, ironically, the door to hell. Various iconic avatars of death must band together with the agents of hell to re-open the door before the world is broken under the backlog of angry and tormented souls.

A map generator capable of procedurally producing sensible world sized environments, without concern for processing time. Output should be formatted such that it can be imported into future projects independent of platform or engine.


New color scheme.

Complaints, comments, concerns?


Dueling in WAR

Ardua wound up pointing me at a post on Wizards & Wenches pertaining to a comment by Magnus(GOA) on GOA's take on pre-arranged duels.

I don't play WAR anymore, but I still feel pretty safe calling bullshit on this one. Dueling is a very social thing. While I'm so sorry that Mythic and GOA actually have to deal with people playing their game not a bunch of mindless robots who live only for the thrill of battle, society and MMOs kind of go together. No Mythic, not making a dance command does not somehow prevent your players from displaying humanity while playing the game.

But back to GOA, for whom I have one question... Really!? I mean people having duels is somehow going to break everyone's precious illusion of WAR being about warfare? Gee, I think if they can get past major strategic landmarks being defended by a handful of troops and conquerable by under one hundred of the worst soldiers in history, engaging purely in skirmish warfare without the benefit of formations, supply lines or fucking army leadership, maybe, just maybe, they'll get past a few people fighting by themselves off in a corner! Or am I the only one who thought it was strange that the great and terrible armies of destruction and the majestic defenders of light are pretty much off duty outside of prime time, and when their on duty they run around like chickens with their heads cut off without the barest hint of discipline or leadership. But then, I also find it strange that we're fighting in cordoned off areas for the ownership of three bedroom apartments keeps, with weapons and armor that our enemies not only don't steal from us, but that are spiritually welded to the core of our being such that even in death they don't come off.

All of this shouldn't ruin the fun of most people, it sucks mine away like a fucking chest wound but then I take the time to ponder military tactics and grand strategy. In and of itself it's all fine, but when you start telling people trying to have fun that they should fuck off because "it doesn’t go well with the WAR setting" you should be more than willing to eat your own god damn medicine. Not that anyone at GOA or Mythic is ever going to read this.


With some time to think about it, the tone of this post is probably too strong... but I think that improves the writing and I don't feel like pussifying it. Suffice it to say, I do realize Magnus wasn't being terribly absolute and was trying to be diplomatic. That does not, however, make the argument any more sane in my mind.


A Fundamental Difference in Starting Point

I've written more than my fair share here in the past about various MMO designs. Unfortunately, as I've bent my mind to the issue and kept an ear to the ground I become increasingly concerned. Chiefly, I'm concerned that the audience to which I can market, is not the audience for which I design.

At various times I may have mentioned that my background in online multi-user worlds is from MUSHes. A MUSH is a fundamentally social thing, and I've only even connected to a handful that had combat mechanics. I was simply never interested in MUD style game play, running around collecting gear and killing monsters. In the offline realm, sure I enjoy spending an hour or two on Diablo II every once in a blue moon, but for the most part rouge-likes and dungeon crawls simply aren't where my heart is.

For many people, their first great MMO would be Evercrack, Ultima Online, Second Life, or World of Warcraft. But for me the first brush was Neveron, an empire management game based in the Battletech universe. The featured a primarily player driven economy, players fought for land which had the chance of granting them resources, they would research the ability to build better weapons and units, and above all players formed their own political landscape. I think it's fairly easy to see why my current go to game is EVE Online.

But as I've designed, theorized and listened, I've consistently found certain detriments. I for one want an ever changing world, but by and large most people don't. They would like change on their schedule, they would like to experience all the events and all the content at their leisure. So far, I've found it impossible to reconcile change that matters, with change people want. Oh, I could probably take the teeth and the meat out of change and give the players "I can't believe it's not change" and I'm sure some arbitrarily large number of people would be happy, but I won't make that game. That game doesn't interest me in the slightest, and the player's reactions to that game are equally uninteresting. (Unless they uniformly hate it, then I might be interested.)

Secondly, I'm not in the mood to play to everyone's masturbatory instincts. No, I'm not talking about titillation, I'm talking about instant gratification. I'm all for relatively high rates of feedback, but not this silly structure of 'ding' you're better. Rewards should be commensurate with effort, talent and time. A patient and intelligent investment of one of those three should always reap greater rewards than simply bashing your head against the wall until someone gives you a gold star for effort. This is one of my main problems with the MUD style, the concept of Mobs that aren't actually trying to win.

But most of all, societal interactions being important seems to be the rift that simply shouldn't be. What is it that makes people think banning Goonswarm and the like for being assholes is a "wrong way" of dealing with them. Griefers are as bad, if not worse, of a problem as gold farmers, but our rules for dealing with them are practically non-existent. But in a greater sense, why are the social realities of an MMO the very last on the list of priorities. Guild management tools, chat tools, social environments, these all come out as the red headed step children of the MMO world. Even starting areas are completely ludicrous. Rather than beginning players in major population centers where they are guaranteed to see, meet, and interact with other players, they are instead positioned in the middle of fuckallistan. Anyone joining after the initial rush will be lucky to see another living soul after hours of wandering.

All of this has got me thinking about making games with significantly more limited multiplayer options. After all, a Thursday night group of 4-8 people can certainly have fun playing a persistent world game without the need for a thousand other assholes. But then, there is the alone together factor that tells me they also wouldn't be interested in investing regular time into something without having those other thousand assholes around to pointedly ignore. Perhaps someday I'll find my perfect answer, but for now, I'm more just frustrated than anything.

EVE doesn't work because it's open PvP. EVE works because it has a complex socioeconomic simulation to offset that PvP, creating a world with a balanced variety of activities along the bartle types. Just thought I'd share.


Biomass source/sinks

I need some critic on this, since it's supposed to be fairly representative of the biomass economic model. Blue is source, black is non-liquid and not self repaying biomass investment, red is sinks where the resource is removed entirely.


Page A


Side Project:

I've decided to re-open my platformer project. This time though, I'm going to tone down my aim. Rather than coming at it trying to find something revolutionary, I'm just going to focus on finishing it and polishing it. I've also scaled back the story concept, reduced the number of characters especially so I could focus in on stylizing and expressing each one.

Some early concept sprites