DLC, budgets, and project planning

Hm. Is LJ a thing anymore? Most of the people I used to follow haven't posted in quite a while, hence, I migrated away as well.

I made this post on Facebook, but I'm going to try and crosspost here as well. I have on occasion tried to find old posts on Facebook that I know I've made, and been unable to find them. So anyway, minor complaining aside, on with the main post.

So E3 is on, and there are going to be lots of announcements about new games, and with those announcements there will also come announcements about upcoming DLC (downloadable content), also for those upcoming games.

Many people make the complaint: Why are they announcing DLC before they've even released the game?

Short answer: Budgets, project planning, and project scheduling are Actual Things.

Longer answer: It's all to do with budgets and sales projections. The developer has the budget to develop a certain amount of content, and this can't change. This content is what gets released on day one. Market research and sales projections say the game will sell for at least X dollars, meaning that they will be able to fund additional content for the game - but this is a different project on a different development schedule and with a different budget, and is based on the additional content being DLC.

C# and tiny caves

So for the past little while I've been trying to figure out C#. In order to do this, I thought, "let's program a game, that'll be fun!" It's a text adventure, but with windows and listboxes and so on.

Tiny Cave Adventure can be found here:

(To get updated as time goes on and I fix things.)

Updates 1/10/16 and 2/10/16: Fixing some basic things with the zip files and a hardcoded pathname I thought I'd gotten rid of.

The responsibility epidemic

So we all know about the Fake Apology, right?

"My comments were just in the spirit of fun! I apologise if any offence was taken, and if my words were taken the wrong way. Those that know me know I would never intentionally cause any harm."

Or, perhaps:

"At the end of the day I was under a great deal of stress, mistakes were made, and we all said things we now regret. My intention was not to cause any harm, I deeply regret any hurt I may have caused, and I equally regret that my words caused such an overreaction. I hope that this apology is accepted in the spirit it is offered."

(Yeah, I just looked up some fake apology bingo cards online and threw together phrases.)

The obvious reason why you get Fake Apologies (or Fauxpologies, which is a word I've recently learned and think is awesome and needs to be used more) is because the Fake Apologiser doesn't believe they were actually wrong and/or they don't want to take any responsibility for whatever happened. Truly egregious Fauxpologists blame the listener for the whole entire thing. "If it wasn't for you then I wouldn't have to be up here apologising for something that wasn't a problem in the first place!"

The reason I'm thinking about is because of an article I read about public violence. (http://www.smh.com.au/comment/australia-doesnt-have-a-problem-with-alcohol-we-have-a-problem-with-violence-20150120-12u3eb.html) In Australia, it seems that lately there's been quite a few incidences of extremely nasty public violence. Alcohol usually gets blamed, and everyone starts arguing about when pubs should close and how alcohol is too easily available.

The article points out that if the only problem was the easy availability of alcohol, then some other places should be hellholes drenched in alcohol-fueled violence, descending into orgies of violence every night as drunken dorks punch everyone and everything around them. The author points out that in Germany, alcohol is easily available and there is no such epidemic of violence. I'll also point out from my own experience that alcohol is easily available in 24-hour convenience shops in Tokyo, and Tokyo is one of the safer places I've visited. (I think of drunken salarymen staggering home at 1am - this is probably a 30 year old cliche that's now wrong though!)

The author points out that the problem is not alcohol, but rather that the problem is violence. We blame the alcohol because it's an easy target that can't fight back, and because if it was the alcohol then we don't have to take responsibility. "But to blame any kind of assault squarely on alcohol is to absolve the perpetrator of moral responsibility, while making scapegoats of the small business owners and their employees in the hospitality trade."

Hang on, this sounds a lot like the reasoning behind a Fake Apology. In both cases, the person at fault is attempting to deflect responsibility, and shifting the blame.

When you think of corporate public relations and corporate spin, what do you think of? I don't know about you, but I think of big corporations trying to explain why something that went wrong isn't actually their fault.

The Fake Apology, blaming alcohol for violence, blaming the user for using it wrong - nobody wants to take responsibility for anything anymore. Why not? The answer is probably, "Money."

The force awakens on a new age in Star Wars movies

So hey, I went and saw the Force Awakens. On the first day it was out, but not the midnight screening. While I *can* stay up really really really late, it's usually a better idea if I don't because then I'm just a slavering drooling zombie the next day.

Spoiler-free version: I did enojy the movie, but it also felt like a lot of it was shamelessly ripping off the original Star Wars movies. However, there were also subversions. Some of my favourite bits were the subversions.

Tim Buckley from Control - Alt - Delete (whether you love it or hate it) has a spoiler-free review that articulated something I hadn't realised. Yes, it shamelessly rips off the original Star Wars movies, but, if you still like it and your main criticism is "it's too much like another movie I love", this is probably better than a story following a force-sensitive human as he navigates the inner workings and politics of local government.

Now, onto the more spoilery bits!

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The Fermi Paradox, and class 1 civilisations

So as is the usual way of things I was wasting time and reading things on the internet. This time it was from Wait But Why (it updates every sometime!). Specifically, this post about the Fermi Paradox.

The Fermi Paradox is the one that says, according to maths and statistics and what we've observed, there must be a whole lot of stars and planets like our own, so there must be alien civilisations out there - so where are they? We've never seen any or talked to any or made strange hand gestures at each other.

There are lots of theories but the bit I'm interested in comes in three parts.

Part 1 - Any sort of intelligent life, way before it builds a world-spanning civilisation, must come to a point where it looks around at itself and makes the realisation, "HOLY SHIT WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE ARRRRRRG!!!"

Part 2 - There are theoretical classifications of civilisations. Class 1 is a civilisation that is using all the energy resources of the home planet. Class 2 is a civ that uses all the energy resources of the solar system. Class 3 is a civ that uses all the energy resources of the galaxy.

Part 3 - If there actually aren't any other super-advanced alien civilisations out there, then there must be some sort of Great Filter. This is some sort of evolutionary or civilisation goalpost that is exceptionally difficult to get past. The idea is, the reason why we haven't talked to any super-advanced aliens is because hardly anybody ever gets past this Great Filter.

There's all sorts of theories about this Great Filter and what it is and if it exists, and if it does, if we're already past it or if it's yet to come.

My idea was: Hey, wait. What if the Great Filter is getting past Class 1? This is where you're using all the energy resources of the home planet. Going past Class 1 is going to be difficult. It'll put great stresses on the home planet's ability to support the civilisation. It will also put great stresses on the civilisation, as it realises its home planet can no longer support it.

Gosh, hm, this sounds very familiar.

If there is one lot of people in the civilisation that says "We're fine there's no problem!!" and another lot of people screaming "OH FOR GODS SAKE DO SOMETHING OR WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE AND WE KILL THE PLANET ARRRRRRG!!!" and they can't agree, then just how possible is it for this civilisation to get past Class 1?

OK let's stop beating around the bush - how possible is it for *us*, the humans that live on this planet, to get past Class 1?

A Dear Joe letter

Another crosspost from Facebook, because that's about the only way this ever gets updated these days. Le sigh. Anyway, here's something inspired by Australian politics.

Dear Joe,

Our relationship has problems. You're a "gunna" - you say you're going to do things, you promise the world, it all sounds a bit far-fetched to be honest, and then on top of that you never follow through.

But then you go and make it worse! Whenever I try to talk to you about your pie-in-the-sky ideas and how you never do them anyway, you always start talking about my ex. Seriously? I haven't gone out with the guy in more than a year. I'm over him, Joe, but you don't seem to be. Stop talking about him, and please start talking about us.

With love (I think),
The Australian People

Alienware 14 screen troubles

(Facebook/LJ crosspost)
Well, this past month has been bloody annoying. The screen on my Alienware 14 laptop suddenly went all weird. It would flicker cyan and purple and the top of the display would end up on the bottom of the display as well. (Makes using the start bar an exercise in faith when you can't see it!) Shutting and opening the lid would more often than not just result in a black screen, but very occasionally would make the screen fix itself.

I dreaded the screen turning off, and any time I would have to restart the computer. I knew I would have a massive battle just to get the screen working again.

The problem being so intermittent made me wonder what the cause could be.

I've been looking online to find out what was going on, and kept on finding wildly different answers, many of which were quite expensive! But the solution seems a lot simpler than dodgy cables or dodgy LCD screens - the driver! NVidia's latest driver seems to be the problem. After rolling back to the previous driver, I was able to restart the computer without the screen going wonky.

Here's an example of the screen flickering:

Archiving here for posterity

The DVD's out on the shopfloor
I don't have to wait for it anymore
Who knew it would take this so so very long?

For months I've waited for this day
April thirtieth, on DVD and Blu Ray
Finally the day and DVD are heeere

But there aren't any special features
It is totally strange
I'm still not ready for the Blu Ray change

For the first time in forever
Frozen's on DVD, to own
For the first time in forever
I can buy it and take it home

Don't know if I'm elated or gassy
But I'm somewhere in that zone

'Cause for the first time in forever
I can see Frozen at home!

I can't wait to see everyone again! Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf, and... Ooh, Elsa!

(Something I came up with yesterday... I'm posting this here before Facebook deletes it.)

One thought (amongst many) on the Wii U

I still don't have a Wii U. I don't know if I'll get one. An awesome new Metroid game might make me get one. Mario... eh. There's a demo unit at a nearby Target store, and I played a couple of levels of the New Super Mario Brothers U demo. It is kinda fun, but I stopped 'getting' Mario quite some time ago. I still have to finish Super Mario Galaxy one.

Blasphemy, I know.

(Since I'm in a blaspheming mood, I'll also that I preferred Nero in DMC4, I didn't like Bayonetta at all, and the main reason I would get the new DmC Devil May Cry is because I'd like to see what Ninja Theory did with the story and storytelling.)

But what I really wanted to talk about was the new controller, and something interesting I saw when this little boy was playing the Mario demo. He wasn't looking up at the TV screen with its fancy "Mario's now in HD!" graphics. Instead, he was looking down at the screen on the controller.

At first I thought this was just another example of how Nintendo has lost the plot, but my brother had another idea. He said his 4-year old son just doesn't get games being on the TV. They have an Apple TV setup in their house, which means that my nephew could, if he was interested, put Angry Birds or Jetpack Joyride or Cut the Rope on the big TV. But whenever his dad does this for him, he's not interested. Instead he wants to look down at the iPad, where he can touch and swipe the screen and make funny things happen. (And sometimes ask, "did the Angry Bird just die?!?")

The little boy at Target playing NSMBU and looking at just the touchscreen? This is probably because playing games on the iPad and iPhone are what he's used to. Like my nephew, he probably doesn't get games being on the TV either.

Suddenly the touchscreen controller of the Wii U, and the fact you can play games on the controller while others use the TV, makes sense. This is so that Nintendo can target the next generation of gamers, and have the touchscreen control that they're so used to, included right from the beginning of the Wii U.

I understand that Microsoft is looking at some sort of integration with smartphones, and Sony would be mad not to. Smartphones have exploded onto the casual/portable gaming scene in the past few years. To completely ignore them would be mad. However, Nintendo is far in advance, and has an integrated touchscreen controller with their new console.

If Nintendo can pull this off they will do massively well. They've got a ways to go - for example, NSMBU has very little touch controls involved.

The sticking point is, well, us, the gamers who are used to playing non-casual games on the TV with the console under it. We want fancy HD graphics and surrond sound and the abiltiy to frag our friends online in AAA summer blockbuster Call of Modern Warfare's Duty Special BLOOPS games filled with chest-high walls. We don't want touchscreen kiddie stuff.

Apparently. After all, I never really got into Dante or Bayonetta or the chest-high wall craze. What do I know about modern gamers and what they like?