Tag Archive for topic

They ARE out to get you!

One big topic of discussion when it comes to any MMO game is its “death penalty”. Mostly this is because people want to know, up front, what’s going to happen when they are too stupid to live, but the other side of this is that most MMOs are specifically designed to kill you.

Its the one thing I find lacking in online games as oppose to the pen and paper games I enjoy with my friends. Yeah, Brian is actually out to kill us too, but he’s generally nicer about it so that at least in part its our own damn fault. But in online games, there are so many encounters that get designed to be killers, to the point where playing a game is more of an exercise in triage than an adventure. You can hear it in the uber guilds as they lay out their tactics in which they are actually calculating losses. “When the first tank goes down…” Not IF the tank goes down, WHEN.

To a degree, this is acceptable, when you are leading an army against a god, you should have some fatalities, but this attitude leaks over into groups as well, and sometimes you can even see that it leaks into the developers as they design expansions. Of course, the developers may just be reacting to player tactics.

But, is introducing permanent death and encouraging player fear of death the answer?

Well, yes. But not alone. The best thing about real life is that not everything kills you, even muggers. Sometimes you just get hurt, incapacitated and left alone. This should happen more in games. Why is everything not only out to get me, but wants to kill me and lick my bones clean? Why can’t some of them be happy with knocking me unconsious, stealing my money and leaving me pantsless in the woods?

I think designers really need to get more creative with defeat. Death shouldn’t be the only answer.

State of Fear

This book, State of Fear by Michael Crichton, scares the crap out of me, and its not even a horror novel. The topic of the book? Global Warming. Now, it is a fiction novel, detailing a fictitous lawsuit against the EPA and a tangled web of espionage and adventure as the lawyer of a billionaire environmentalist gets pulled into a crazy plot to engineer difinative proof that global warming is a dire threat to all of humanity.

But why does it scare me? There is a point in most people’s lives when they finally come to an understanding of just how little we, the human race, really know about how our world works. And I am not talking about just a personal realization, because I had that many years ago when I discovered that I did not know everything. I am talking about how much science is going on and how little actual certainty there is about what they are studying, especially when it comes to complex systems like global climate.

The book reads like any other thriller type novel, but right at the beginning there is an author’s note that states “references to real people, institutions, and organizations that are documented in footnotes are accurate.” And the paperback copy of the book contains a 32 page bibliography. So while reading the book, I didn’t take everything Michael Crichton chose to spoon feed me. I looked up the books and articles and read some of them myself, and I read others not used in the book, and in doing this research I ultimately came to the same conclusions about the material as he did when it came to writing his book: the media and politicians exaggerate the hell out of conjecture and dish it up as solid fact. When you read a bunch of the data, you come to realize that it is very possible that we might one day have another ice age, or that we might have a global drought with searing heat, but that we cannot conclusively say which or what is going to happen because these is alot of data out there and it points in every conceivable direction and we do not know all the variables yet. Global warming could be very real, but right now we have evidence that supports it and refutes it, in fact if you restrict your view to the data that global warming supporters throw out you would be lead to believe that the planet is actually cooling. And what really gets to the core of why this book scares me is that the world is making policies based on conclusions that are not fully realized, that cannot be fully realized.

I highly recommend this book, and I also recommend reading up on what is really going on in the world. Do not settle for what the TV tells you.

I will choose free will.

Again on the topic of religion…

I believe in the concept of free will, that as a human being, I am destined for nothing. I am, in part, the sum of my experiences, but every step that I take forward (or backward or left or right) is my own to choose.

When it comes to God, many people believe him to be omniscient, all knowing. However, this doesn’t jive with free will. If God knows what you are going to do, then its in his plan, and your will is not free. If you change your mind, God knew you were going to change your mind, and planned for it.

I believe that God WAS omniscient. In giving humans free will, however, he flawed himself in that he no longer knows what humans will do. That was the price.

Free will, when you boil it down from that perspective is simply the ability to defy God’s will. And if you believe in the Great Flood, then you believe that humans abused free will, defied God and he wiped them out.

This, to me, is where Jesus comes in. God has this gaping hole in his knowledge, humans defy him and he doesn’t understand why. So he has a son, Jesus, who is mortal, and hence has free will. Of course, he’s also divine, so he’s less likely to defy God and do whatever he wants. Jesus walks the earth, doing good deeds and stuff, like that guy from Kung Fu. Some people don’t like him and what he says, so they decide to kill him. This is when Jesus finally understands free will. Sometimes, people defy God out of spite or because they are evil. However, there are times where people defy God out of ignorance, a failure to understand God’s will. Humans learn by making mistakes and understanding their failure. Humans are NOT all knowing, they can’t see the mistake before it happens, only after. Jesus asks God to spare us, to forgive us, because we are ignorant.

Jesus is a teacher. Divinely born of God and woman, yes, but a man, mortal and understanding of our will, free will. Through him, we can learn to not be ignorant, and hopefully defy God’s will as little as possible.

That’s it, in a nutshell.