Thursday, June 28, 2012

Actual Supreme Court Decision

"It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices." This is probably the most important quote from Roberts' opinion for the Court. Now, this isn't a law blog, so I'm going to spare you a lot of details. But, after joking on the Supreme Court yesterday, I figured I'd give you a quick run down of my thoughts on the matter. If you don't care about the Supreme Court case, then uh, don't click below.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Official Supreme Court Predictions

Ok. My official prediction. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court finds in favor of Predator in Alien v Predator. Kennedy writes for the majority, as always, noting that "They've got lasers and space ships. Game, set and match." Concurring, in full, Thomas writes that "We cannot overlook the technological superiority and ranged combat power of the Predator."

Ginsburg dissents, citing Aliens "superior numbers and acid blood."  Scalia concurs in part, but dissents in part, noting that "It would not be a total curb stomp. Some of those ugly mother f****** are going down."

No decision will be reached in Batman v Superman, with it dismissed for lack of standing. Roberts, writing for the court, notes: "This shit'll never happen. Now, Lex Luthor v Joker, that is a ripe issue for the court." Sotomayor, in addition, noted that "If an evil doppelganger Batman or Superman were to challenge his good opposite, we would be able to revisit the case. However, this would not be a precedent setting case, as the evil nature of the alternate universe Batman or Superman would, necessarily, differentiate them from their good counterpart."

Also, on the legal question, "Who you gonna call?", the Court will remand the decision to New York, with Kagan noting while reading the decision that "Cats and dogs living together is a matter for local state regulations." On the second legal issue, in a per curiam decision, the Court finds that the answer is "Yes" to the question: "Are you a god?"



Inspired by Tapper's #otherSCOTUSpredictions Twitter hash tag.

The Secret World: Giving a Character Character

Below, we have some fun character development for The Secret World. It is my not fact-checked application to the guild we mentioned in the last post. I'm not willing, you see, when it comes to applying to guilds to jump through hoops. But, if I get the opportunity to, you know, apply in character? I'll take the time to do it.

I don't think some of these things are real things. This character probably is as "realistic" as a standard academic you'd see on "Bones" or "White Collar." In short. Not really. Plus, he swallows a magic bee.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Playing With, Not Next To

Yesterday, I mentioned that one of the biggest issues in the modern MMO is that we are playing next to, not with, each other. In short, we're engaged in parallel play. Well, technically, it is associative play, since we're all playing together in the same activity, but that's not as well known a phrase. But, for the sake of accuracy, let's call it associative play. MMOs biggest hiccup is that, for the most part, in the grand scheme of things, we do not have a way for players to engage in meaningful cooperative play frequently enough.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Have We Out Grown MMOs?

That's a question that came up last week or so. Johnson makes some good points and arguments, and I don't want to piggy back too much off of what he says. So, go read it, come back, then go below the fold. Underneath is one of my rambling "thoughts on game design" posts. So, keep that in mind. It is rambling and not proofed.

Oh, before you go read it though. Remember, June 27 is a GW2 stress test. Some of us will be at work, or something close to work, so we won't be able to play it. You could say that we've out grown mid-day stress tests.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fiction Update: Zombie Story Rough Draft

The biggest note for today is that the first rough draft of the current story is complete. Here's the link for the story if you want it. If you don't want it, reading on will be kind of silly, since I'm going to talk about the experience of writing it.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Do You Play The Secret World?

Do you play The Secret World, and do you want to play with us? My main will be Escutcheon. Send me a message if you join, and we can play games together. He'll be easy to find. He likes guns and books (though in the live game, he'll go shotguns and pistols.)

The shotgun is for shooting. The book is for reading.
More screenshots below the fold.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Weekly Things Matt Links: June 22

So! It is a new week and time for a new Things Matt Links. While I wait for my Secret World Beta Weekend patch to happen, you can read about The Secret World, either there or here. Rumor has it, there may be some about it here at some point in the future, which is a place you should read any way.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Measuring Success for Games

Since we're talking about MMOs lately, Guild Wars 2 has a good read. Now, I understand Johanson's point at making the grind of subscription based MMOs sound as terrible as they are. But, realistically, people are not going to plug away at their dailies and progression if they do not find it fun. Some people may choose to suffer a certain amount of indignity, provided the rest of the game is fun.

But, it does ask a really good question: "If we chose fun as our main metric for tracking success, can we flip the core paradigm and make design decisions based on what we’d like to play as game players?"

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Play It Your Way Ethos

One of the big selling point of a lot of upcoming MMOs (and most past MMOs) is that you can play your character your way. Look at Guild Wars (1 and 2!), The Secret World, The Matrix Online, Champions, etc., etc. Even games with fairly strict character progression and talenting structure, like Star Wars, insist you can play it your way. But, I'm curious what you would need to do, from a design stand point, to really let players play it their way.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Matt Makes a Runesmith!

Today, I realized, that we needed a Rune Smith.

We now have a Rune Smith.

He has a book. It is filled with grudges.

Instead of a great weapon, he has a shield.
That is all. I have a headache from adjusting to new glasses. So, no real content today. Go to yesterday and read about The Secret World or check out the Veritech. Or, read about a little girl in a futuristic Western. Or, you know, things I haven't written.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Secret World of Dwarfs

You are probably aware of the Secret World's Beta Weekend last weekend. Since we're a pseudo gaming blog, I figured it was time to share my experience with the beta, since, you know, I have been giving Guild Wars 2 such good press. Since they say: "You are free to tell anyone about what you experience in this Beta Weekend. We encourage you to spread the word and take both screenshots and video," let's get some screenshots and tell you some things.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

More on Demise of Guys

For background, go read here. Over at Ann Althouse's blog, they were discussing this article. The author says: "I can’t argue with (Zimbardo's Demise of Guys), especially in younger men. However, these behaviors are symptoms of something deeper." Guess what? You can argue with it! In fact, it behooves you to critically analyze it and see if the argument holds. This article, itself, has some serious issues with internal consistency. I noticed I had a gender in gaming label, so, let's take some time to examine this and see where the problems are in the reasoning.

Society lets Charrlie see himself in the game.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Weekly Things Matt Links June: 15

Welcome to the next set of weekly links! I'll be stomping through Act III and IV of Nightmare on Diablo III tonight. So, to tide you over, here are some links.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Some More On Writing

This piece got recommended to me via a few places. I'm going to be honest. Like the "you're not special" speech bouncing around the Internet (that I haven't listened to), I don't understand why this is news to people. Doing almost anything well is hard, and most anything worth doing is hard. Likewise, most skills are hard to monetize (especially hard ones you are not good at!)

I have not published any fiction. I've had a few nerd things published in a niche, minor website, At the time, it was solely out of boredom, and, my God, was that really 2004? I write articles for my job, and I write here and my page of fiction fiction a day. I have done non-fiction editing (but not writing) from before I had a regular job. So, I'm not exactly an inexperienced writer, but I'm also certainly not writing for Forbes. For proof? I wrote unexperienced before red squiggly told me I was wrong.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

He Walked Out The Door (and Out of the Story)

So, as I am doing my page of fiction a day, I reached the point where we stop teasing that something bad is going to happen and disaster strikes. This is pretty good; we thinned our cast during the initial rush of zombies. So, I took a headcount afterwards to make sure I knew what was happening next, since I try to plan things. That's when I realized: "Hey, did I ever bring so-and-so back from the bar after the hero saw him leave the hotel?"

Then I scrolled up and did some reading. Nope. Five or six pages ago this minor character asked if the hero wanted to join him for drinks, then walked out the front door. He never came back, because I did not do my pre-writing and plan out my sequence of events. Technically, according to my rules, I'm not supposed to backtrack and re-edit or re-write sections, though I break that rule all the time.

Also, I liked the current flow of events as it was, and I did not want to add another scene to drag everything down. I notice that with all my fiction a day pieces. They are just incredibly slow! What a useless scene is this: Guy comes back, says: "Yeah, things are going to heck out there. Glad I'm back!" Everyone acts nervous for a page.

So, let's turn this fiction lemon into fictional lemonade. I dislike the amount of closure some stories give anyway, with every character's fate tied up in a nice neat little bow. Sometimes, characters should just disappear without any fanfare or explanation. So, it is on purpose now. Isn't it great when mistakes are useful? Look! I'm following my rules (and it is only partially motivated by laziness!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Writing Comics Is Hard!

I read the Fawkes one-shot, which you can tell from its release date means that, as usual, I am behind. (I give it an A+, but one thing was weird. I thought Bruiser was a healer and that Fawkes was a sword user of some sort? Maybe they all have multiple characters, or maybe they re-rolled when Riley joined to accommodate her character choice? Anyway, when that is the only nit that I pick, you're doing pretty good.)

Anyway, whenever I read a comic book, especially one I like, I always want to try my hand at it, then I remember, I suck at it. I've mentioned before that I think writing comics is harder than writing actual, paginated fiction.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Don't Buy Buggy Products

You know what I hate? I hate double clicking the InstallCoolNewGame.exe or Setup.exe whatever, letting the little progress bar fill up, then immediately crashing to desktop. I should not need to make a Computer Use check to get into your game. The barriers to entry for any product should be insanely low. Minutes to learn, a life time to master, is good design ethos. Minutes to learn, hours to troubleshoot is more a slap in the face.

Remember the Dragon Age: Origins release? How cool was that opening video? Once you got to see it, I mean. Not when the sound and video skipped, looped and crashed for reasons that required a patch.  The worst part though is that it is a pretty decent game. But, somehow, no one in their QA world tried to, you know, run the game to see if it did not work. They will tell you that PCs are hard to design for because you have any variety of conflicts that could crop up; this is something I can understand. I am sympathetic towards that plight. But, guess what? You design games. It behooves you to cross your Ts and dot your Is.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Specific Trope That Annoys Me

I'm working on a short story for my page of fiction a day. As I write it, I'm trying to stay away from certain tropes that annoy me. One trope that annoys me in particular is one that is almost everywhere, relating to party balance. Fiction tends toward a well balanced group of people, a complementary team, even if the situation is such that this should not happen organically.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

In Depth Guild Wars 2 Beta

Charrlie wanted to play, so I decided to let him. As you may have been able to guess, he decided to make a Charr.

Charrlie is loyal. And likes hammers.

GM Secrets: Party Balance | 100th Post!

Let's talk about party balance. Party balance in a table top RPG is vastly different than in fiction. In television, you have theoretical party balance, with the main hero overshadowing the rest of the party. No one really thinks the Ronin Warriors are a balanced party. In single player games, the hero can overshadow his friends. But, as you add players, particularly MMOs, the entire content system begins to revolve around the idea of a balanced party taking on level appropriate challenges (or, raw, overpowered cheese slicing through, uh, butter... look, this got away from me). D&D has been doing this for years, with crippling over specialization common in party dynamics.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Weekly Things Matt Links June: 8

This is your week, in links. As always, if you like the blog, become a follower! The response to Zimbardo's Demise of Guys CNN article is probably the most heavy blog lifting I've done since the series on America's greatest military enemy, so I think it fitting to relax on today's post. This is blog post 100, according to Blogger, so if you're new and have time on your hands, hit the archives.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

CNN Drops Ball on Demise of Guys Article

Somehow, this report slipped through the internet cracks. Go read it, then come back. I've picked on the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal for some problems, so, now let's actually focus on CNN on a topic that actually is related to one of this blog's founding topics: Gaming.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Government Funding by Kickstarter

I really, really, really need a bad ideas tag. But, here is a novel idea that I initially came up with as a joke about what NASA could do with its new lenses. But, I kicked it around today, and I think it is a good start. What I'm saying is that, crowd sourcing funds for government projects may be a legitimate method of funding government tasks at the margins that would normally get over looked for more pressing needs, like payroll, rent and mandatory expenditures.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Exploring Space Lecture: Seeking Planets Like Earth

The Transit of Venus was a bit of a bust due to cloud cover today. But that's OK. I did still make it to the Exploring Space Lecture. The archived video will be available over the next few days, but let me give you the run down of how awesome it was. They started with a brief video from Experiment about Van de Kamp's invisible planet (that turned out to be nonexistent). It only got better from there.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The World is a Star Ocean

The world is a Star Ocean. That is the key thing to take away from tomorrow's Transit of Venus, which you can observe on the National Mall if you have the time. If I get there early enough, you may even run into me while I wait for Seeking Planets Like Earth to start. So, what's all the fuss about stars and space and star oceans? The world does not have enough good sci-fi RPGs. Compared to the inundation that exists with fantasy (and sci-fantasy with things like Anarchy Online and Star Wars games), there's just not enough good, clean, space ship fun.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Dragon Dice Rule Book Proof/Format

So, finally ready to show the first rough of this. The first thing to remember is this is not a rewrite of the rules. This is merely taking the existing rules and reformatting them to be more user friendly. The original document is available here. You can download my current draft from here. Some specific notes appear below the fold.

Publicizing Individual's Political Donation History

Between beating up on the Washington Post, and now this post, I think we may have to start saying that journalism and the First Amendment are side issues for the blog. I think that's OK.

Apparently, researchers at Harvard are going through public records and mailing out information about political donations to individuals. You can read about the study here. You can also read about the, uh, less than stellar response it is generating here. Their stated goal is to: "study the implications of the public’s awareness about the open nature of campaign contributions." If that were true, then simply letting people know the information is available is enough. Actively singling them out and making them appear to be the only one in their area contributing to a cause is not raising awareness, though, that may simply be the examples we've been shown.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Join Me in Welcoming GW to the 21st Century

Everyone, hark, join me now in welcoming Games Workshop to the 21st Century. I got the email this morning. Isn't this grand, for them? Dwarf lord riding a shield approves.

So badass, he has a bolter pistol.

They promise new releases every month. Which is good, since their offering is meager at best. Welcome to the 21st century, but, please remember, we've been here for awhile now. Catch up.

Now all they need to do is set up a 3-D printer at conventions for custom built heroes/unit champions with the proper wargear on them and they'll fulfill both unsolicited pieces of advice I have given them.
Actually, here's another piece of advice. Gamers use things other than iPads. Cross platform: Get on it. Also, update the Mordheim rules. Please.



It is no surprise that the Space Marines were first. Everyone loves Space Marines. They are the Raymond of the Games Workshop product line. See? I made a sitcom reference. I am topical and witty.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Weekly Things Matt Links: June 1

Welcome to June. Next week, I'll be at this event, so if you want to join me and be a nerd, now you know how to do so. Yesterday, we killed Diablo. This weekend, I plan to finish up the first rough, no pictures, version of my Dragon Dice rewrite. But, now that all that nerd stuff is out of the way, some links, none of which includes Mice and Mystics, which you should look at anyway.

Journalism in the Washington Post

Ignore the politics of the recall in Wisconsin. Focus, instead, on this example of flawed journalism that relates to the recall.

Or, more directly, why Greg Sargent's latest post should be an embarrassment for the Washington Post. Here is a moment Sargent tells us everyone is talking about. By which, Sargent means the people who made the video and support Barrett, a moment they want everyone to talk about. Because it helps their guy; nothing wrong with that. Making ads is part of politics. But, the problem is that Sargent, as a journalist, should have a better B.S. detector.