Category Archives: Computer

THE WYRDROAD

THE WYRDROAD

By the way, I’ve mentioned this before but I have a new Facebook Gaming page up. It reflects the interests of this blog and you are welcome to go there and join and then participate and make your own posts.

Here is the Address: Wyrdroad

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WYRDROAD

I have established a new Facebook Gaming Group.

I haven’t had much time to build up the membership yet because I’ve been busy but I have tried to build up some interesting content. The primary interest of the group is gaming, but like this blog it will cover history, archeology, warfare, science, technology, fantasy and science fiction, literature, pop culture, comics, etc.

You’re welcome to visit and to join. Just hit the links provided.

WYRDROAD

 

NornsOld4

STAR TREK BRIDGE CREW

You’re in Command with Star Trek: Bridge Crew

StarTrek.com Staff

June 13, 2016

Today at E3 in Los Angeles, Ubisoft announced a fall release for Star Trek: Bridge Crew, a new virtual reality game that will allow players to explore space as a member of the Federation. Supporting the announcement: a cool video featuring LeVar Burton, Jeri Ryan and Karl Urban trying out the game. Playable co-operatively with a crew or solo as Captain, Star Trek: Bridge Crew puts players directly onto the bridge in a Starfleet ship. The game will be available on PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

Bridge Crew puts a player and their friends in the heart of a brand-new starship, the U.S.S. Aegis, where every action and decision made will determine the fate of the ship and her crew. The overriding mission is as follows: Explore a largely uncharted sector of space known as The Trench, in hopes of locating a suitable new home world for the decimated Vulcan populace — while coming into direct conflict with the vaunted Klingon Empire.
As developed by Red Storm Entertainment, a Ubisoft Studio, Bridge Crew is designed exclusively for VR. It capitalizes on the powerful sense of social presence only possible through virtual reality. Through hand tracking and full-body avatars, including real-time lip-sync, players can experience what it’s like to serve as an officer on the bridge of a Federation starship.
As a crew, players will form a team of four to operate the roles of Captain, Helm, Tactical or Engineer. Each role is crucial to the success of the varied missions players face, and only by working together can the crew complete their objectives. Also playable in solo, players will assume the role of Captain and dispatch orders to their NPC crew mates. The Captain’s strategic decisions will be vital in order to successfully complete missions. In other words, it’s your ship and you’re in command.

Keep an eye on StarTrek.com for additional details about Star Trek: Bridge Crew.

– See more at: http://www.startrek.com/article/youre-in-command-with-star-trek-bridge-crew#sthash.pGLwqy04.dpuf

GENE RODDENBERRY’S FLOPPIES

How Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s words were freed from old floppy disks

When Gene Roddenberry’s computer died, it took with it the only method of accessing some 200 floppy disks of his unpublished work. Here’s how this tech mystery was solved.

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While Gene Roddenberry is often associated with the Macintosh, he apparently did far more writing on this unknown-brand computer.

Call the engine room and get Scotty to the bridge: When the long-lost words of Star Trekcreator Gene Roddenberry were found on 5.25-inch floppies—yes, floppy disks—it would take a Starfleet-level engineering effort to recover them.

Roddenberry, who died in 1991, apparently left behind a couple of shoebox-sized containers of those big floppy disks.

The problem? As any techie knows, floppy drives went out off fashion around the turn of the 21st century. Even if you bought a used 5.25-inch floppy drive off of Cyrano Jones on space station K7, you wouldn’t be able to read the files on a modern computer, let alone plug in the drive.

Roddenberry’s estate knew of two possible computers the author had used to write those final words. One had been sold off in a charity auction and the second wouldn’t boot when plugged in.

floppy disk 2009 g1GEORGE CHERNILEVSKY
Most of Gene Roddenberry’s lost work was stored on the 1970s and 1980s era 5.25-inch disk, which here is flanked by the older 8-inch and newer 3.5-inch versions.

The computer’s dead Jim

Rather than accept that no-win scenario, Roddenberry’s estate turned to DriveSavers Data Recovery. The lack of an operative computer was less than ideal, but  Mike Cobb, director of engineering of DriveSavers, was optimistic, considering the company’s ability to recover data from most forms of computer media known today.

According to Cobb, the majority of the disks were 1980s-era 5.25-inch double-density disks capable of storing a whopping 160KB—that’s kilobytes—or about one-tenth the capacity you can get on a $1 USB thumb drive today. Cobb said a few of the disks were formatted in DOS, but most of them were from an older operating system called CP/M.

CP/M, or Control Program for Microcomputers, was a popular operating system of the 1970s and early 1980s that ultimately lost out to Microsoft’s DOS. In the 1970s and 1980s it was the wild west of disk formats and track layouts, Cobb said. The DOS recoveries were easy once a drive was located, but the CP/M disks were far more work.

“The older disks, we had to actually figure out how to physically read them,” Cobb told PCWorld. “The difficult part was CP/M and the file system itself and how it was written.”

As the data recovery firm couldn’t get Roddenberry’s old computer to power on, it had to sleuth the physical layout of the tracks on the disk. That alone took three months to reverse engineer; Cobb credits his own “Scotty,” Jim Wilhelmsen, with figuring it out.

drivesavers star trek recovery 1DRIVERSAVERS DATA RECOVERY
DriverSaver’s Mike Cobb and Jim Wilhelmsen with Gene Roddenberry’s dead computer and a pile of the floppy disks they helped recover.

To make matters worse, about 30 of the disks were damaged, with deep gouges in the magnetic surface. As luck would have it, Cobb said most of the physical damage was over empty portions of the disks and he believes about 95 percent of the data was recovered.

Besides seeking the technical expertise required for the task, the estate also wanted high security, according to Cobb. The estate wasn’t going to just drop all 200 disks in a FedEx box and pray to the shipping gods they wouldn’t get lost. No, only small batches of the disks were doled out at a time,  and each batch was hand-delivered to DriveSavers’ secure facility in Novato beginning in 2012.

Once DriveSavers had recovered the data, the data had to be converted into a format the estate could open. It’s not like you can feed a 1980s-era CP/M word processor format into Microsoft Word, so Cobb personally converted each file to a readable text file.

The big reveal

All told, Cobb said when the operating system files were excluded, about 2-3MB of data was recovered from the 200 floppies. That may seem like a minuscule amount by today’s standards, but in the 1980s, document files were small. Roddenberry’s lost words were substantial.

So what’s actually on the disks? Lost episodes of Star Trek? The secret script for a new show? Or as Popular Science once speculated, a patent for a transporter?

Unfortunately, we don’t know.

Cobb ain’t saying. Understandably, when DriverSavers is contracted to recover data, it’s also bound by rules of confidentiality. PCWorld reached out to the Roddenberry estate but was told it had no comment on the data or its plans for the newly discovered writing of Gene Roddenberry.

drivesavers star trek recovery 2DRIVERSAVERS DATA RECOVERY
For their work in recovering The Great Bird of the Galaxy’s lost writing, DriveSavers received a signed photo of the Star Trek creator in front of his computer from his son.

Related:

THINGS OF INTEREST AND USE – GAMEPLAY

THINGS OF INTEREST AND USE

I have a Pinterest account in which I have compiled things of interest and use for my writings, gaming, and inventions.

Some of you might find these things useful for designs, idea-generation, or mapping.

D&D ON STEAM

D&D now on Steam, complete with dice and a Dungeon Master

Fantasy Grounds, one of the leading virtual tabletop platforms, now offers officially licensed Dungeons & Dragons content from Wizards of the Coast. Available through Steam, the software can allow players to virtually recreate the 5th edition D&D tabletop experience complete with dice rolling, 2D maps and a play experience completely controlled by a dungeon master.

Anyone who’s been playing D&D over the last decade remembers the promise of Wizard’s Virtual Table. First publicized in the back pages of 4th edition core rulebooks, it promised a fully-realized, 3D tabletop roleplaying experience. But over the lifecycle of 4th edition the vision wavered, and in 2012 the Virtual Table beta was officially cancelled.

In the meantime, a number of virtual tabletop solutions cropped up organically online, allowing players to come together from remote locations around the world and have an experience very similar to playing at a table together in the same room.

fantasy_grounds_phandelver

One of the most capable solutions is Fantasy Grounds, which has a bewildering assortment of features and flexibilities that allow game masters to create everything from homebrew games, to Pathfinder and other established tabletop systems. Add to that the officially licensed D&D modules available for download, including add-on classes and monster collections, as well as entire campaigns.

The first set of products, including the D&D Complete Core Class Pack, D&D Complete Core Monster Pack, and The Lost Mine of Phandelver went on sale last week. Polygon has spent some time checking out the content in The Lost Mine module. Believe it or not, the entire experience, page-for-page, of the physical 5th edition D&D Starter Set is represented there. Beyond that, Fantasy Ground’s modules even include annotated maps hotlinked to spawn enemies onto the grid, ready to roll initiative.

We talked to the president and owner of Fantasy Grounds, Doug Davison, who said that more products are already in the pipeline.

“We have a queue that we’re working through right now,” Davison told Polygon. “We just finished up the preliminary work on the Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure module, and so that’s currently in review right now. We’ve already conducted our internal reviews, and now it’s out in the hands of a few folks at Wizards of the Coast. So depending on how much needs to be changed during that process, I think you’re looking at a matter of maybe weeks before that’s available.”

Greg Tito, Wizard’s communications manager, confirmed for Polygon that other campaigns, including Rise of Tiamat and the recently released Princes of the Apocalypse, are on the way for Fantasy Grounds.

It’s interesting that Wizards is partnering with a tool which, for all intents and purposes, allows users to scrape content off the internet for free and easily insert it into their games. Fantasy Grounds’ own online tutorials give step-by-step instructions on how to grab maps and art from Google Images and drop it directly into user-generated games.

But Tito says players have been doing this sort of thing for generations, so why not support a tool that lets them do it easily? Furthermore, he hopes that fans will see the value in the for-pay Fantasy Grounds modules, as they leverage the strong work that the Wizards research and development team, as well as their publishing partners, produce in the physical books.

“It goes down to everything that we’ve been excited about in this partnership withFantasy Grounds,” Tito said. “It’s just another tool to allow people to play D&D the way they want to play it.”

DIGITAL MAPPING – GAMEPLAY

Dungeons and Dragons comes to life on digital maps

 

By Dennis Scimeca Feb 2, 2015, 9:01am CT
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A projector combined with a Web-based tabletop role playing game tool make for a new and really cool way to play Dungeons and Dragons.

Reddit user Silverlight is a developer for Roll20, an online tool for virtual tabletop role playing game sessions, so he knows a thing or two about blending technology into traditional RPG play. By pairing Roll20 with a projector mounted on the ceiling, Silverlight is able to display digital maps on the tabletop for a home session of D&D.

And the coolest thing about these digital maps is the ability to show characters’ actual line of sight as they explore. Discussing the setup on Reddit, Silverlight says that this functionality is built into Roll20, and he made the cones of vision possible by manually revealing portions of the map to the players.

This isn’t really a practical setup to replicate. Silverlight used an Epson brand projector to make the digital maps, and a cheap Epson projector should run you about $300 on Amazon. Still, it demonstrates new possibilities for playing tabletop role playing games. Roll20 runs in a Web browser. Maybe someone can figure out how to make this setup work using a much more affordable smartphone projector.

Photo via Silverlight/imgur

A REALLY-REAL VIRTUAL REALITY? FOR REALLY-REAL? – THE FORGE

OCULUS RIFT WILL MAKE VR A REALITY IN 2016

GET READY TO JACK INTO THE MATRIX

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Oculus Rift

Oculus

Virtual reality is about to meet actual reality. Oculus VR, the company behind the long-in-development Oculus Rift, has announced that it will finally begin to ship the virtual reality headset beginning in early 2016.

Pre-orders of the device, which can been used for everything from immersive space sims to interactive VR movies, will kick off later this year, at a yet undisclosed price point. The shipping device, based on the company’s Crescent Bay prototype, will include built-in audio and what Oculus describes as “an improved tracking system” that works regardless of whether you’re sitting down or standing up.

The ergonomics and industrial design have been tweaked as well to make it a product that’s a little more polished for the consumer market. Previous models were only available for developers interested in building apps and games for the headset, though the company also helped produce the Gear VR headset being sold by Samsung.

We’ll get more details from Oculus VR in the coming weeks, including the price and full technical specifications, and the company teased that the upcomingE3 gaming conference might be one venue in which it would deliver further information. The big question remains exactly what software will work with the Rift upon launch. We’ve seen some examples already, including space simElite: Dangerous and the aforementioned interactive movies. Given how long developer kits have existed, it seems likely that game companies and others have had time to add support for the Rift into their products, but I’d expect to see some game announcements at E3 and more as we get closer to the Rift’s actual ship date. Like so many new peripherals, however, there’s a chicken-and-egg dilemma; some will no doubt buy a Rift sight unseen, but many may wait to see whether this is a literal game-changing experience before they invest. Yet if nothing else, there’s always Oculus’s parent company, social media behemoth Facebook, which has said it intends to provide some sort of social experience through virtual reality.

Of course, Oculus isn’t the only company interested in VR: HTC has teamed up with Valve to produce a headset targeted for later this year and gaming company Razer is taking a bigger picture approach with an open source platform that’s compatible with multiple VR platforms. One way or another, virtual reality will be a fact of life in the next year or so.

OPEN CHOICE IN GAMING – THE FORGE

Today’s entry for The Forge is based upon a correspondence between me and an old friend over the idea of exactly how much of a game can and should be programmed (pre-designed), how much should be flexible and open to ad hoc manipulation, and what the consequences of these conflicting deign principles really mean.

Of course in tabletop and role play games (non-electronic versions) the ad hoc and “open” elements are much easier to develop and fully exploit in comparison to exactly how much of a computer or electronic or video game must be pre-programmed. But in my opinion the ultimate goal even of computer and video and even virtual reality games is not just to mimic or emulate open choice, but to actually develop program parameters than allow a sort of “open interface” with the gaming world in the same way that an individual can interact with the Real World. That is to say game should not merely simulate “open choice and open exploration” they should actually provide it.

And since today’s entry is for the Forge I also briefly discuss the Design and operational Tools I call the Terra Incognito and Esoteric Distribution Principles, as well as Hard and Soft Backgrounds/Milieus.

 

 

Since all games are programmed (to some extent) I think that it is very unusual for most game designers (who think in a programmed fashion- that is they try to project onto the game the same basic methods of thought which they themselves use for the logical design of the game) to attempt to program into the game the elements you described.

When maps are drawn and given to the player they are almost invariably accurate.

Why, most all game designers think, give a player an inaccurate map as that will only anger him and look shoddy, as if it were the fault of the game designer, as if it were a bug. Most players have become conditioned to think in exactly this same fashion as regards games. They see that something does not function properly and they automatically assume it is a bug. But much of life is exactly that- Terra Incognito, you get no real map to most things in life, especially things you have never encountered before and it is ridiculous to assume that any map you ever receive will be absolutely accurate. As a matter of fact much information we receive and much education is similarly either erroneous or at the least tainted by bias, or by ignorance or by mistake, intentional or unintentional.

Then you have to consider that often times things we receive as information from any particular source may also be purposely misleading.

Therefore if a game is to mimic life in many respects it has to incorporate this “unknown and unexpected” territory and it must also incorporate intentional deceit. For instance in many games i have played when one receives informant information it is just assumed to be accurate or truthful. This is not the way real informant information works. It is partially correct, partially misleading, purposely misleading, it is second or third hand information, it is misinterpreted, or disinformation, etc… Games should reflect this. As a matter of fact this puts me to the mind to create all sorts of intentional bug parameters that reflect real life, not randomness, but actual error. Error that is reflective of living error.

So I’m gonna incorporate both aspects into my game designs. The unknown, uncharted, unmapped or incorrectly mapped territories, of whatever kind I’m gonna call the Terra Incognito principal. The other, the misleading or incomplete information principle I think I’m gonna call
the Esoteric Distribution principle.

Both principles will function as a sort of basic background of functionality, that a game, like life itself is not just about the data but the quality and nature of that data and how accurately that data reflects upon the overall gaming environment. Then the player, like a living person, will have to determine not only the gaming parameters, but the functional parameters and whether any information received is of any actual value, whether it is valid or invalid.

I suspect that current principles only exist because they are reflective of the basically mathematical mindset of software and game designers.

That is perfectly appropriate for the development of a Hard Background, or environment in a game, but it is completely superficial and childlike in naivete as regards a Soft, or Human, Background. Soft Backgrounds are full of error, deceit, and ignorance. Unlike present games, soft backgrounds fail to function properly, or one could say function in error about as often as they function successfully and accurately. Soft Backgrounds are not just mere isolated plot devices, but should be a vital and ongoing principle of making any game or skill simulation function correctly.

THE PROJECTED GAME

Actually I’m working on an invention that would replace this altogether for all kinds of tabletop games, not just Role Play but Wargaming, Board Games, etc. Anything imaginable played on a tabletop.

But I still like the general set-up described/displayed here.

DnD_DigitalMap.jpg (1300×975)

Dungeons and Dragons comes to life on digital maps

A projector combined with a Web-based tabletop role playing game tool make for a new and really cool way to play Dungeons and Dragons.

Reddit user Silverlight is a developer for Roll20, an online tool for virtual tabletop role playing game sessions, so he knows a thing or two about blending technology into traditional RPG play. By pairing Roll20 with a projector mounted on the ceiling, Silverlight is able to display digital maps on the tabletop for a home session of D&D.

And the coolest thing about these digital maps is the ability to show characters’ actual line of sight as they explore. Discussing the setup on Reddit, Silverlight says that this functionality is built into Roll20, and he made the cones of vision possible by manually revealing portions of the map to the players.

This isn’t really a practical setup to replicate. Silverlight used an Epson brand projector to make the digital maps, and a cheap Epson projector should run you about $300 on Amazon. Still, it demonstrates new possibilities for playing tabletop role playing games. Roll20 runs in a Web browser. Maybe someone can figure out how to make this setup work using a much more affordable smartphone projector.

Photo via Silverlight/imgur

A FEW THINGS I HAVE LEARNED OVER THE YEARS PLAYING STAR FLEET BATTLES/STAR FLEET COMMAND

A few principles I have learned in playing SFBs, but many are also widely applicable to both numerous other wargames and to Real Life.

Missiles are always the most effective weapons. They track, they force the enemy to consume resources on defensive countermeasures, their range is the effective greatest of any weapon, they consume little power to prepare, and they do not degrade over distance as far as their destructive power. Their only real limitations are speed of movement (in some cases) and interceptability – otherwise they are a near ideal weapon system

Obtain and use the fastest and most powerful missiles even if they cost you far more – they are worth the expense

Save your attacks against enemy tractor beam defenses until after they are damaged – that is to say punch through enemy shields first and let them intercept your missiles then close in and cripple their tractor beams defenses only after they are in missile holding mode

Always use probes to gather better Intel on operating capabilities/conditions and damage to enemy ships

Carefully time your boarding actions but use them freely

Do not deploy your fighters either defensively or offensively until you have sufficiently damaged or crippled the enemy – your fighters are too easy to kill and are wasted in the initial stages of an engagement, but if the enemy is crippled they are truly lethal

Use missiles as a stand-off weapon against multiple enemy ships so they cannot close and flank you all at once

Prepare all counter-measures (such as wild-weasels) at the beginning of an engagement, a counter-measure is useless if it is unprepared

The Gorns are paper tigers, so are the Romulans if you simply stay out of range and time your defenses properly

The Klingons mean business and fight like hell – short of enemies like the Vagr they are your most dangerous opponents

Hydran fighters are extremely dangerous in squadrons, but Hydran weapons are hit and miss at best – Hydran ships can’t take a punch

The Lyrans are knife-fighters, avoid close contact, if you have to get close then kill immediately

You don’t like the Kzin/Kzinti – liquidate on contact with extreme prejudice

Throw combinations, and often

The optimum range for almost all weapons is point-blank – however that’s probably not the optimum range in which to operate

Constantly rotate your shields and your firing arcs – become excellent at coordinating defensive and offensive actions simultaneously

Maneuver is your friend, but you have to earn his friendship

Your ship will be destroyed if you get too close to the enemy as he dies – let the enemy die at a distance

If you can capture an enemy ship then do so, if you have to destroy him then do so, but never let him escape

The unknown works in both directions

Assume every alien/unknown entity is a potential hostile, but do not force them to be such

Unless your ship is specifically designed for stealth operations then Electronic Counter-Measures are far better employed in a defensive fashion

Place transporter bombs where they will do the most damage – place them strategically, because sometimes that’s the whole battle right there

Once your enemy is afire then press your attack

It is better to cripple or destroy enemy systems than to attack hull or kill crew

Do not give the enemy an opportunity to undertake useful damage control efforts

Never hesitate at your own repairs – employ damage control and repairs efforts as needed and immediately

Withdraw whenever necessary

Steal enemy repair goods with your transporters and use them for your own or simply deprive the enemy of necessary resources – he can’t repair what he doesn’t have

Good Intel and proper sensing is a Weapon – short of main weaponry your most effective one

Sensing passively and running silently does not disclose your location – so get good at it

Scan at all times unless there is a very good reason not to

Limit your enemy’s ability to maneuver

Do not Cross Your T’s, rather dog-leg your firing arcs

Become superb at precise targeting

Fire first if you must, and if you must, fire often and with sure aim

Screw the Prime Directivelet the lawyers sweat over that crap

Yellow or Secondary Alert is the most useless nonsense ever invented, don’t ever bother with it, you’re either on real alert or you’re not, so, always be on real alert

Use the environment (planets, asteroids, gravitational fluctuations, nebulae, etc.) to your advantage

Time is part of your environment – at all times use time to your advantage

Never assume an ally will make a smart tactical decisionalways assume your ally will screw up and be prepared accordingly

Develop new technologies constantly

Study enemy capabilities constantly

Always be open to superior ship designs and refits

Speed is better than power, power is better than toughness, especially when you’re talking high-energy weaponry

Don’t be there when the weapon strikes –avoid rather than absorb

Always be ready to take advantage

Have a battle plan prior to engagement

Be fluid and flexible, but mostly be much faster than the other guy

Make all of your decisions before you have to

Imagine you’re going to be crippled and nearly killed – now you’re that much better prepared for it

Each enemy is different, with different capabilities and liabilities, know your enemy

Out-thinking your opponent is the best way to prove your superiority

He who can recover and re-attack fastest will probably win

There is no virtue and no advantage in absorbing attacks

Wait until the proper moment then cut loose with all hell – do not hold back in combat

The enemy has weaknesses – observe and exploit them

An unstable or untrustworthy alliance is a point of leverage

You can beat multiple opponents at once, but you must be prepared with a plan of action and combat

There is no shame in escape, but there is destruction in defeat

Be prepared for the Trap

Be proficient at Setting the Trap

Anticipate, and avoid

Whether your win or lose and whether your crew lives or dies depends entirely upon you

Communications are vital – unless you have a death wish, and in that case do whatever the hell you want, because you’re an idiot anyhow

Sneaky works – be very, very sneaky

Victory is far better than heroics

The fast kill is the best and saves the most lives – by far

Be unpredictable

There are far more ways to kill the ship chasing you than the one approaching you

Always destroy approaching probes and hamper enemy efforts at gaining information on your ship and capabilities

Disinformation and misinformation – disinformation and misinformation – disinformation and misinformation – don’t make me repeat it again

The Federation has, by far, the most well-rounded and multi-capable ships – that gives you a huge overall set of advantages – use them

In-game targeting systems for photon torpedoes suck, what in the hell is the point of having great ordinance you cannot reliably deliver to the target? Think about it

Smarten all of your weapons, and then make them so efficient in operation that even a dumb-ass could use them effectively

Invention is the Mother of (Power) Projection

Constantly train your crew

Constantly train yourself

The last battle is the one you lose, the next battle is the one after you win

THE BAER PASSES

Goodbye and Godspeed Ralph. You did us a solid.

Ralph Baer, inventor of first video game console, dies at 92

The man largely credited as “the father of video games” has died at age 92, according to a report from Gamasutra. Ralph Baer, a German immigrant and inventor, created the very first home video game console in the late ‘60s. It was simply called the “Brown Box,” and it later came to be known as the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972 after he licensed out the design.

The device set the footprint for home consoles to this date: a computer in a box that was manipulated with controllers and connected to a television. He also developed a “light gun” controller that was bundled with a shooting game. It is widely believed to be the first-ever video game peripheral. Later, he designed the Simon pattern-matching electronic toy that’s still available today.

Baer was awarded the National Medal of Technology from President George W. Bush in 2006, and he received the Pioneer Award during the Game Developers’ Choice Awards in 2008 (video below). For more on Baer, check out this excellent interview from 2012 and this wonderful profile from Ars Technica.

TOTALLY BAAAHHH-D!

Lol!

Never heard of this before. But any game in which you can be a Microwave can’t be all bad, right?

 

Goat Simulator is going to be a free MMO

Cult hit Goat Simulator will receive a free expansion later this month that will transform the release into a massively multiplayer online game, developer Coffee Stain Studios revealed today.

The new expansion promises to offer faction warfare between goats and sheep, along with numerous quests. Players can additionally choose to play one of five available classes, including Warrior, Rouge, Magician, Hunter and Microwave, with a level cap of 101. A gameplay trailer is available below.

The MMO-styled release launches on Nov. 20 as free downloadable content through Steam for those who already own the original title on Windows PC. Goat MMO Simulator will also be playable on Mac and Linux with full controller support.

SILENT HILLS

Silent Hill(s)

By far the scariest and spookiest game I ever played was Silent Hill. So I’m really looking forward to this:

Also most of the music from Silent Hill was terrifying, especially if listened to while playing alone in the dark. Some of it was sad, disturbing, and beautiful all at once. such as this:

ROLL20

Very interesting indeed…

ROLL20

THE LOST TOWN OF SWITEZ

I saw this entire film earlier this evening. It was absolutely brilliant. If you get a chance to see it then you really ought to watch.

GAMING CAMPAIGN TYPES

This is a list of my Gaming Campaign Types.  These are the types of Campaigns I develop for my various games. It can be applied to any type of game, from RPGs to Alternative Reality to Video Game Scripts.

You might also find it a useful guide-typology for your campaigns, games, and game designs. Or even for your fictional works and writings. If you have another type of Game Campaign you’d like to list then please feel free to do in the comments section.

Enjoy.

 

GAMING CAMPAIGN TYPES

Historical Campaign
Alternative History Game
War or Wargame Campaign (Offensive Warfare)
Invasion Campaign (Defensive War)
Ethnic Cleansing Campaign (Genocide)
Quest Campaign
Diplomatic Campaign
Agency Campaign
Personal or Character Driven Campaign
Achievement Campaign – first one ever to do it, or one of few to ever do it
Training Campaign
Frontier’s Campaign
Psychological Campaign
Thriller Campaign
Criminal Campaign
Law and Order Campaign
Hunt Campaign
Monster Campaign
Geographic Campaign
Political Campaign
Mystery/Detection/Investigative Campaign
Academic or Scholarly or Research Campaign
Transferable Skills Campaign – relate game to real world interest of players
Mythological Campaign
Status (Kingmaker) Campaign – where one of more players seek power, status, wealth, or influence
Legacy Campaign – fulfilling a personal or family legacy
Heirloom Campaign
Religious Campaign
Ritual Campaign
Occultic Campaign – hidden or secret knowledge
Horror Campaign
Clash of Forces Campaign – clash between opposing groups, powers, interests, or parties
Nemesis Campaign – campaign against your nemeses
Illusion Campaign
Magic or Change in the Nature of Magic Campaign, also called an Arcane Campaign
Nature or Environmental Change Campaign
Fate Campaign – one or more party members has a particular Fate to fulfill
Scientific or Technological or Invention Campaign, also called a Progress Campaign – where some scientific, technological, magical (a new spell or device or artifact is created), or invented machine, device, artifact, or discovery threatens to fundamentally transform or alter the world
Geographic Campaign
Relical Campaign – involving some ancient and powerful relic, artifact, or ancient device
Disaster or Catastrophe Campaign
Discovery or Exploration Campaign – discovery of some new area of the world, or of some ancient yet unknown/little known section of the world
Heroism and/or Self-Sacrifice Campaign
Disintegration Campaign – slow disintegration of a structure or system or government or a nation
Rebirth or Renaissance Campaign
New Race or Species – discovery of a new race or species
Weird Campaign

ESSAYS ON GAME DESIGN: THE BLOOD OF UNCANNY MONSTERS – PART TWO

Essay Twelve: The Blood of Uncanny Monsters* – Part Two (continued)

Synopsis: The Blood of Monsters is far more than the blood of simple animals, or the nerveless sap of tree limbs. The blood of the monster is a deep, potent, ancient, terrible thing, capable of warping the world, and either wondrously enabling, or viciously crippling and killing, the Hero. Beware the blood of the monster, and do not easily discard the tremendous potential it encloses within itself.

Essay: In this section I shall discuss some of the more actual mechanical and physical and pragmatic properties that the Blood of Uncanny Monsters will possess, or should possess.

With that in mind I am going to suggest some effects that will result from the injury, death, or shedding of the blood of uncanny monsters. Some of these effects will be light, some dramatic, some wondrous, and some terrible. Feel free to add your own ideas. This is an Interactive Essay on the notion of “Monstrosity.”

The Corpus Dejecti: First of all, let me speak about the remains or parts of a monster’s body (whether or not the creature itself has survived as a result of loss of these assets). The remains or parts of a monster are valuable because of the unique properties they bestow both upon the monster itself, and anyone else either fortunate enough, or unfortunate enough, to gain control of or contact such remains. To that end let me detail just some of the possible parts of a monster’s body that could be invaluable, a treasure in itself, or horrifically disastrous, an unshakeable and lifelong curse.

The Blood
The Brains
The Eye or eyes
The Third Eye or the Secret or Invisible Eye
The Tongue
The Horn or horns
The Scales
The Claws or nails
The Heart
The Liver
The Lung
The Glands
The Tears
The Ichor
The Tail
The Foot
The Hand
The Paw
The Snout
The Jaw
The Ear
The Tendril or Tentacle
The Wings or feathers
The Fin
The Bile
The Stolen Part
The Flesh
The Muscles
The Excretions

The prized and blood or ichor stained possessions of a monster
Each of these parts might render some beneficial aid to the possessor, or might render some monstrous curse. In the case of especially powerful or weird monsters, it might very well render both, and/or multiple effects.

In addition such tissues or remains can be prepared, modified, presented, and intentionally used (with the right knowledge) for other employments, such as:

Creating inks and parchments
Creating Book materials
Creating unique potions
Creating unique magical items
Creating technologies, machines, artifacts, and devices
Creating unique traps and tricks
Creating illusions
Creating unique spells and powers
Disrupting other things, objects, places, or events
Dispelling magics
Enhancing or disrupting miracles
Augmenting or disrupting mental or psychological powers
Augmenting or disrupting physical capabilities
Augmenting or disrupting spiritual capabilities
Invention, Design, and Craft
Summoning or turning away other monsters
Summoning or turning away the undead
Summoning or turning away demons and devils
Foreseeing possible futures
Solving puzzles
Overcoming obstacles
Developing new scripts, ciphers, and codes
Gaining control over, or freeing other creatures
Gaining control over, or freeing spirits
Communicating secretly and/or over a distance
Creating Glammors
Creating powerful blessings or curses
Making objects tough or nearly indestructible
Destroying other objects
Extending or shortening life
Curing or causing disease
Creating or controlling intense emotional states
Charming others
Exciting Love, or Hate
Allowing flight
Healing or preserving health

The Effects – I will divide effects into obviously beneficial and obviously malignant effects. Some effects may seem to fall into both categories. Some effects can be viewed as blessings, others as curses. These effects can occur on the level of the individual, or on the cosmic level (effecting the world at large), or both, when the blood, tissues, and other remains or parts of a monster become exposed to a hero or the world through direct contact. These effects are not intentionally controllable but occur as a result of the unique properties of the monsters interacting with the unique nature of the individual or circumstance to which the blood or remains of the monster are exposed. These effects can also be acute, immediate, temporary, chronic, delayed, or life-long and permanent (unless somehow brought under control or removed).

Beneficial Effects:

Magical powers increase
Sensory Capabilities improve
One can read the thoughts of others
One can know the hearts of others
New capabilities are gained
One becomes stronger
One becomes wiser
One becomes more intelligent
One becomes more charismatic
One becomes more resilient
One becomes faster or more dexterous
One’s flesh becomes invulnerable to certain things
One rarely tires or rarely needs to sleep
One needs little food
One needs little water
One becomes powerfully intuitive
One becomes prophetic
One becomes clever and ingenious
One can speak with monsters

Malignant Effects:

Magical powers decrease
Sensory capabilities become clouded, restricted, or confused
One’s own thoughts become scattered, confused, and open to suggestion
One becomes unable to understand the motives of others
Old capabilities are lost or diminish
One becomes weaker or feeble
One becomes more foolish, reckless, or unwise
One becomes denser, slow-witted, or more stupid
One becomes repugnant or repulsive to others
One becomes drained, lethargic, or inflexible
One becomes slow of body and reflex
One is easily injured or sickened
One exhausts easily and often, or is chronically anemic
One becomes uncontrollably gluttonous
One becomes a drunkard or an addict
One becomes uncontrollably arrogant and prideful
One becomes uncontrollably envious and covetous
One becomes uncontrollably lustful
One becomes uncontrollably angry, petty, and ill-temperate
One becomes uncontrollably greedy
One becomes uncontrollably despairing and cynical
One becomes uncontrollably slothful and lazy
One becomes uncontrollably bloodthirsty and vicious
One becomes easily duped and made fool of
One becomes blind
One becomes deaf
One becomes unable to smell
One becomes unable to taste
One becomes leprous
One becomes mute
One contracts a chronic and perhaps incurable disease or condition

Blessings:

Good fortune is enjoyed
Crops become plentiful
Good and pleasant weather
Enemies avoid invasion or warfare
Water supplies are clean and plentiful
The earth is enriched, plants and animals thrive
The natural environment becomes filled with beneficial magic
Wealth increases
New resources are discovered, old ones are easier to exploit
Miracles occur
The Gift of Tongues – other languages can be understood, or the language of other creatures can be understood
Powerful and beneficial creatures or allies rein habit the area
Trade prospers
Resistances to malignant forces develop

Curses:

Water becomes polluted, fouled, and poisoned
The air becomes poisonous and retched
Foul, dangerous, catastrophic, violently stormy weather
Natural disasters abound
Plagues become common
Droughts develop and wild fires break out
The earth becomes weak, polluted, unyielding and unproductive
The natural environment becomes resistant to beneficial magic or open to malignant magic or other influences
Wealth decreases and resources become depleted
Treasures corrupt or corrode
Misfortune multiplies or lingers
Confusion and misunderstandings of speech and language
Malignant serpents, insects, and other creatures spring from the ground
Warfare and Civil warfare erupt
Vulnerabilities to evil develop

The Death Curse of the Monster: Sometimes at or near the moment of their death particularly powerful, intelligent, and malignant monsters might curse an individual, a party of people, or even an entire region or nation with an especially effective and malicious curse. In such cases extreme and immediate counter-measures must be taken, sometimes even involving the undertaking of a complicated Quest, it order to nullify or reverse this curse. Otherwise, if the curse is not counteracted it may very well unfold as prophesied in a most destructive and devastating manner.

Conclusion: Make use of monsters, their blood, and their remains in a far more interesting, productive, potent, and imaginative way to reflect their real and inherent potential for creating both endless wonder, and appalling desolation.

* I use the term uncanny poetically. I do not mean to imply that a monster must be supernatural (in the gaming or mythological sense) for its blood to have weird or powerful effects.

ESSAYS ON GAME DESIGN: THE BLOOD OF UNCANNY MONSTERS

Essay Twelve: The Blood of Uncanny Monsters*

“The Blood of the monster is the doom of the unwary.”

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

“Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels.”

“History is not the story of heroes entirely. It is often the story of cruelty and injustice and shortsightedness. There are monsters, there is evil…”

“… I prefer the monsters of my fancy to what is positively trivial.”

Synopsis: The Blood of Monsters is far more than the blood of simple animals, or the nerveless sap of tree limbs. The blood of the monster is a deep, potent, ancient, terrible thing, capable of warping the world, and either wondrously enabling, or viciously crippling and killing, the Hero. Beware the blood of the monster, and do not easily discard the tremendous potential it encloses within itself.

Essay: In myth it is often the case that the blood, tissues, organs, or parts of a monster have unique, if not astounding properties of their own, quite apart from those possessed by the whole or intact, living creature itself.

Yet far too often these additional (or inherent, really) “monstrous characteristics” are overlooked (sometimes entirely) in fantasy, mythological, and magical gaming. Monsters are slain, their blood washes over the characters to no real effect, and the monstrous bodies or corpses thereafter simply discarded, as if they were the inconvenient, tiresome, or useless detritus of the true business of adventuring. No real consequences ensue from, or for, the slaying of monsters, from being in close proximity to them when they are killed, or from being washed and covered in the gore and curses and hatred and pollution and ferocity of their ultimate demise. The death of monsters becomes a mere mathematical and mechanical expression of character survival beyond beastly endurance, rather than a fascinating cosmic struggle between weird and uncanny physical, supernatural, and magical forces and the life-force of men. And the killing of monsters likewise has either no additional benefit, nor any additional consequence, other than the taking of their treasure or the removal of their objection to whatever goal(s) the hero currently or ultimately pursues. In short the monster is far less a real monster, far less a real threat, far less weird and far less dangerous, than if hunting and killing monsters implied nothing more mysterious, fantastic, and potentially lethal than a mere exercise in hit point reduction to “less than zero.” As a matter of fact killing most monsters in many role play games implies a level of danger and consequence that is exactly that, less than zero. Once slain or nearly slain a monster is then no more of a real threat than the paper-tiger number stats used to summarize his imaginary existence. But is this really a proper expression of the idea of monstrousness? In the imagination? In myth? Or even in-game?

Certainly not so in myth, where the blood of monsters and weird beings often has dramatic (and even sometimes life-long) effects upon the heroes who encounter such marvels, perhaps even upon nearby observers, other monsters, or the very landscape itself. In this respect I think myth is often far more engaging, richer in content and implication, tremendously more interesting, and far more versatile than typical fantasy (or other genres of) role play gaming. Monsters actually mean things in myth. They are not simply the enemy soldier du jour, dressed in some fantastic garb of hoary yet impotent flesh or rotting, undead sheets of nothingness. They are not merely “tactical challenges” as would be the case as if an infantry battalion in a wargame were suddenly compressed into a single fearsome body and sent forth to fight tooth and claw against armed adventurers. Instead monsters are “danger incarnate,” they are a warping of the woof of existence, their being alters and changes things around them, they bend reality, sicken or extend it, they reshape nature (physical, mental, and spiritual) into a monstrosity of devastating potential. In myth (from which spring the sources of the idea and shapes and names and forms of monsters in role play games) monsters are dangerous, deadly, uncanny, they distort the nature of the things they encounter, and they do all of this both within and well-beyond the very narrow confines of combat. It seems to me then that the monster should be returned to his more natural (or unnatural, depending upon your point of view) state(s) of being, a being that exudes, reflects and engenders corruption, weirdness, lethality, and real, unremitting and unrepentant peril. Both in life, and in death. *

In short I am advocating the idea that even the blood, tissues, and corpses of monsters might very well, and even in some cases definitely should, have effects both upon the characters encountering them, and upon the entire atmosphere and environment of the role-play milieu. That monsters become far more than mere combat automatons, far more than just tactical challenges, far more than an enemy in a rubber mask and a plastic suit of armor who can execute feats of multiple backflips or shoot acid from a naphtha gland in his mouth.

Monsters are not simply monsters because they look weird, because men find them to be distasteful, evil, ugly, frightening, gigantic, or unique adversaries. Monsters are also monsters because of their peculiarly monstrous qualities, which extend far beyond motive and appearance and down to the very marrow of their bones, as well as throughout the blood or ichor that washes unseen through their twisted veins. And that when this blood (and/or body) becomes exposed to the world at large, when it stains the flesh of the hero, and when the bones of monsters litter the landscape, other things occur of definite and noticeable effect. Things that are sometimes wondrous, things that are sometimes terrible, occasionally even more horrifying in implication or outcome than the threat of the original monster itself. (I use the term monster in this respect in a very generalized sense. Of course the same “monstrous properties” might be said to exist for supernatural beings and alien creatures, in horror/supernatural/adventure/superhero, and sci-fi gaming. And I would hardly argue against the same types of monstrous properties I am advocating for mythological and fantasy based monsters is such cases. Rather I would just expect that given the nature of the creature in question that such properties would manifest differently, but also quite obviously, in those other types of circumstances.)

TO BE CONTINUED…

SOLO RETENDERE

Solo Retendere (Claim of Full Possession of My Own Intellectual Properties)

– unless otherwise acknowledged, expressed, or specified all materials on this site (or any of the other sites I inhabit on the world wide web or similar communication structures) that were composed, created, designed, devised, formulated, or produced by me, be they in the form of Artwork, Business Ventures, Capital Projects, Career Activities, Designs, Game Materials, Inventions, Mathematical Equations, Musical Compositions, New Theories, Poetry, Scientific Works, Songs, Unique Innovations, Writings of various kinds, or any other intellectual property I own or retain control of, herein and henceforth shall be considered possessions under my sole authority and are fully protected by copyrights, trademarks, registrations and any and all applicable laws, local, national, and international, and any violation of my rights regarding any of my property, intellectual or otherwise, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. All rights reserved.

I am very happy to openly share ideas and to work collaboratively, I encourage that, but I do not like the theft of my ideas and property, and that I will pursue and prosecute.

Jack W. Gunter

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