I’m actually a couple days late with this. I’m also off to a pretty poor start. In any event, I’m participating again and am now working my way toward 50,000 words. Last year I broke 5,000 words, which is the farthest I’ve ever gotten and double the year before. My goal this year is really just to break 10,000. Of course, I’d love to get the whole 50k, but I also like setting manageable expectations.
This year I’m actually dusting off an old idea and I really want to finish it. I’d like to get this idea down on paper, and maybe stop having it hang around in the back of my head as one of those things I really should write.
My profile, as always, is here. Feel free to add me as a writing buddy. And to throw a little inspiration your way, enjoy this little music video…
Apologies if you saw this earlier, Dragon*Con got in the way and I didn’t finish it…
I have no idea what this movie is about. I haven’t even seen a trailer for it. It just isn’t on my radar. But Clooney is pretty much always good, so… I’ll see it at some point.
Going the Distance:
Saw a screening of this last week, and before going in I didn’t pay any attention to the rating of the film. So, I entered expecting a typical PG-13 romantic comedy that the wife would love and that I would tolerate. What I got was an R rated hilarious masterpiece on the frustrations of long distance relationships. There was just so much funny and good about this film that I don’t know where to begin. Totally worth paying to see, in my opinion.
Just two nights ago I went to the Fete Machete down at the Plaza Theater. It was awesome. If you liked the Grindhouse double feature from a few years back, you’ll love this.
If you are familiar with computer graphics, be it in movies or games, you have probably heard the term The Uncanny Valley. In short, the idea is that the closer you approach realism without reaching it the more striking the tiniest flaws become that actually cause the viewer to become more aware of the “falseness” of it. Often you’ll hear people talk about the “dead eyes” because they don’t blink or twitch enough, or problems with the way the mouth forms words not being quite right.
For me, new games that try so hard to be super realistic actually result in me not wanting to stare at their graphics for hours on end. Even my current favorite game, Red Dead Redemption, has issues. Many of the people in that game look overly dirty, and most of the female characters are downright hideous. You could brush that off as “people were dirtier in the Old West” and that might be true, but it still doesn’t look right. That’s why most of the game is played pulled back behind your character. If it was first person and you had to look all these people in the face to interact, it would be very off putting.
All of this is why what a company called Depth Analysis showed off at E3 this year is just so cool. It’s called MotionScan and essentially it takes the current motion capture (the suits people wear to get things like Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films) to a whole new level. It scans the entire body, so that not only motions of the limbs are recorded, but facial ticks and lines as well. Just check out this comparison from the above linked article:
John Noble in real life and in MotionScan.
It does look pretty damn impressive. This has me really looking forward to Rockstar’s L.A. Noire which is going to utilize this technology.
Nearly two years ago I had an idea. A tool to build, a website. But no matter how much time I spent on it, I never really got anywhere with it. I wasn’t inspired to finish. When I first watched yesterday’s video nearly a month ago, it got me thinking about my own project.
Originally, the idea had just been about making money. I was working a contract job that was running out and all my attempts to find new work were failing. I had one of those moments where I realized that it was entirely possible to create a job for myself rather than rely on finding one. Despite the idea I had, which I still think is a good one, I found that I didn’t have the drive to work on it. The potential for money wasn’t motivation enough.
After watching the video on starting with why, I asked myself, “Why do this?” I figured, if I couldn’t state why I wanted to do it then there was no point daydreaming about doing it.
At heart, I’m a softy. This is the sort of movie that I enjoy watching (you know, to offset the horror and action stuff), but I get more out of it when I’m at home (you know, when I don’t have to worry about people seeing me cry). If you like these sorts of films, you might want to venture out and see it, or you can be like me and watch it at home when it comes out (and no one can hear you weeping).
I’m really on the fence about this movie. The idea of two adults getting away for a date night and having hi-jinks ensue seems awesome, but I’m not sold on the whole crime entanglement and super spy stuff that shows up in the trailer. Plus, you know, I like Steve Carell except when he does that robotic shouting of obvious things. “Oh no! My pants have fallen! Look everyone! My pants have fallen!” as if the comedic scene is being described for any blind people who might be attending the film. But, Tina Fey, she’s awesome. I probably won’t end up paying full price to see this, and if I don’t see it this weekend I’m not likely to see it in the theater, but I’m sure I will enjoy it on DVD.
Today begins the first part of an ongoing project. Basically it is the embodiment of those “a reason to write every day” things that some communities do that I could never get any communities I belonged to to get interested in. The idea is to write, essentially any idea that comes into my head, all into one story, just to get it out of my head. Perhaps some of these ideas will eventually become full stories on their own, perhaps this whole thing will evolve into something different. Who knows!
Over two years ago on this blog I decided I was going to investigate the idea of building a game where the player was only allowed to create one character. From thinking about it on my own and from discussions on message boards, I came to realize that most MMOs simply couldn’t do it. Mainly because their design has actually come to not only expect but actually count on players playing more than one character. With shared bank space to easily swap items and continuing to limit characters in the number of trade skills and other aspect, as well as encouraging people to play alts and race through the old game again and again removing as many barriers to speedy leveling as possible, you simply couldn’t release a clone of any current DIKU-style MMO that only allowed one character. You’d need to rebuild the game from the ground up. And most MMO players simply weren’t interested.
Enter the Facebook game.
By default, the design of almost every Facebook game is that you only have one character. As well, there is only one world and everyone shares it. It is this element, and this element alone that has me taking a second look at the Facebook games that I originally dismissed.
The game play of most Facebook games still irritates me. Some of them are what I refer to as “intensely casual”. They are casual in that they require very little effort, but they are intense because their design is that there are actions to take and buttons to click all the time. These games often provide so much micromanagement that a player can get lost in there quite easily.
I’d love to see some games that can dial back that intensity, like D&D Tiny Adventures (though they go a little too far and it barely feels like I’m playing a game at all), and I’ll keep looking for them. Sadly, though, Facebook games are almost less diverse than traditional MMOs, so it won’t take long at all to go through them.
But maybe this is what it takes. I said that to do one character in one world that MMOs would need to be rebuilt from the ground up, and maybe Facebook games are where that rebuilding can happen.
I am a big fan of the idea of having one world for MMOs, and I don’t mind if they use instances to achieve it. The biggest concern when it comes to breaking the world up that way is the potential loss of community. If all 100,000 of your users are on the same world, and they all go to town at once, your game might have 100 instances of that town (as opposed to needing 100 servers to make sure your population levels are such that town doesn’t exceed 1,000 players at a time), the worry is that the 1,000 people you are in the instance with will likely never be the same 1,000 the next time this happens. Even if only enough people ever go to town that never more than 5 instances are needed, the chance you run into the same people over and over is pretty low.
Fact is, even on a game that limits players to 10,000 per server, no one knows everyone. But finding your 100 “friends” out of 10,000 is easier than 100,000 or 1,000,000, even easier when only a portion of that 10k plays in your timezone. An instanced game gets even worse if you leave town and enter an instance designed for 75 people max, the chances you’ll play with the same 75 people is even smaller. So how do you meet new people and make friends? How does a community build when everyone shares?
It would be nice if someone could take the one world/instance design and then pair it up with a player matching algorithm, so that if you play with someone in a group or raid for any signifigant length of time they’d earn a rank, and you can flag players as good or bad, coupled with your friends list resulting in the game choosing an instance with the highest matching score. This way, you would tend to play with people you’d played with before, except of course when the game cannot let you (instances exist for a reason, and sometime you just can’t let more people in), but you can allow for player overrides so even if the game chooses to put you in Wilderness Instance 27, you can swap to join a player you know who is in Wilderness Instance 19, or they you.
Its a thought… just need to figure out how to build it…
One of the things that has always bothered me with my writing is coming up with names. Every character needs one and mine always end up in one of two categories. Either their name is unique and awesome, or it is horrible plain and forgettable. I have spent many any hour agonizing over names and often end up reusing the same ones over and over.
However, thanks to an idea from Corvus Elrod, I started keeping a list of names from spam emails and comments on this blog. I’ve already got well over two hundred names and I’ve only been doing it for about a week. The names range from the banal to the exotic and every level in between. The idea was inspired, so to Corvus, sir, I tip my hat. I may never have to worry about character naming again.
So, as previously noted, I’m working on a little side project for myself and as I get into it and through it, I figured I would blog about steps that I have taken and maybe get some discussion going.
To begin with, I had an idea. It was a very general sort of thing which I then nailed down to a few specifics. In this case, what I am building is a web based tool, so I nailed it down to being web based, likely written in PHP, and with a database for a back end, likely to be MySQL. With the initial idea fairly solid, the next phase is the brainstorming…
How I usually approach this is to get out a blank piece of paper and ask “Given no limits at all, what features can this thing have?” And I start filling out the page with lots of craziness. After I have a nice sizable chunk going, I start to go through the list and try to group them. The first group is the “1.0” version, these are the features that are absolutely required in order for the product to be worthwhile, the foundation, the core. Of course, in my world, version 1.0 is almost never the release product. 1.0 is the version you test the waters with to see if people actually want what you have. Once you’ve locked in those base features, you take all the rest of your ideas and start looking for ways to group them together. In my opinion, you never want a release of a product to be scatter shot, adding tiny features all over. It is better if your release overhauls one section and really fleshed out one piece with new ideas and fixes, at least until tiny scattered fixes are all that is left.
Once I’ve got most, if not all, of my original brainstorm ideas grouped together, its time to actually make the core a reality. Brainstorming is part of the iterative design process. When the core is done, we’ll do another round of brainstorming before deciding what elements will make the next release.
Have any things you do in your brainstorming design phase of a project? Feel free to share…