(Via Rich Carlson.)
Submitted by costik on Wed, 08/27/2008 - 12:59.
Submitted by costik on Sat, 08/09/2008 - 23:51.
Well, that was exciting... Apparently, our hoster, Galaxy Visions, was completely screwed by a lightning strike last night; from their email:
"Initially we were informed that the lightning had melted the transformer cables and they would need to be replaced at daylight however upon further inspection our facilities main transformer which was struck by lightning exploded and produced loss of power from Con Ed and at the same time disabling our generators. Our entire technical staff as well as electrical staff has been on site all night...
"We are in the process of having a new transformer craned onto our facility's roof and at the same time installing a redundant transformer if another act of god should happen in the future. This has been the longest outage in GalaxyVisions history..."
Which was why we were down for the day. Occasionally one is reminded that we still live in the phenomenological universe.
Submitted by costik on Wed, 07/16/2008 - 22:22.
I don't usually pick up Boingboing links, because I figure everyone in the known universe already knows about them, but this one is too cool.
Whenever anyone says something like "Bushnell's Pong started it all," someone else inevitably says "but what about Ralph Baer?", and someone inevitably tops that with a reference to Willy Higginbotham's Tennis for Two. (Except for me; I go for John Jeffery's A Journey Through Europe, but then I view digital games as merely an extention of an artistic form that has a deeper history.)
In truth, Higginbotham's game was a one-off, an outlier, an historical curiosity, and not particularly important to the evolution of the field except that it does has undeniable precedence. Still, how cool is it to find instructions on how to build your own with nothing more than an oscilloscope and a handful of of electronic components?
(And while you're at it, go play Spacewar! -- yes, Steve Russell's original PDP-1 code, running as written, inside a Java PDP-1 emulator -- quite a cute hat-trick.)
Submitted by costik on Sun, 07/06/2008 - 20:40.
Hrrmph. Second time it's happened -- I go to the site, and Drupal serves an error page saying there are too many mysql processes. Killing and restarting Apache and MySQL fixes the problem temporarily, but I guess something in Drupal is spawning sleeping SQL processes that never get closed out. There's no custom MySQL access in the site, so it's probably a bug in Drupal somewhere, and I don't think I want to spend the time to try to track it down. I may try upgrading to Drupal 6.0, though, in the hope that the problem's been fixed by someone else (we're using 5.7 at the moment).
Submitted by costik on Tue, 07/01/2008 - 01:08.
I don't know how deep I'll wind up going with this, but I've posted a biography (and ludography) of Milton Bradley below. The idea is to fill out our list of eminent game designers with pages that discuss their lives and contributions to the form.
Incidentally, if you'd be interested in contributing to the effort, let me know--the contact form works for that.
Submitted by costik on Thu, 06/19/2008 - 04:32.
In my novel First Contract, which I wrote in the late 90s, my protagonist says "and for fast-breaking news, there's always Reuters on the web" -- as a reason not to watch television.
In other words, a decade ago, I thought that organizations like Reuters and AP would be huge on the Internet.
Submitted by costik on Fri, 06/13/2008 - 16:12.
Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble, which Leigh Alexander reviewed here some time ago (on the basis of its demo) has been released, for both Mac and PC. It also won the "Most Innovative Game" award from the Casual Game Association last year.
Elegant graphics ala vintage boardgames, feisty flappers at a somewhat intimidating high school in the 1920s, story-driven but carried in little mini-games -- quite unusual, and quite charming.
Submitted by costik on Tue, 06/10/2008 - 18:11.
In The Anatomy of Violence in the current Escapist, Robert B. Marks, a student at the Royal Military College of Canada, makes a connection between the oft-cited S.L.A. Marshall study which, in 1947, stated that only 15% of soldiers unsupervised by their officers fired in combat, and the much-debunked claim that videogames desensitize to violence.
As a result of the Marshall study, soldiers have, since, undergone training to fire their weapons whenever engaged (resulting in, among other things, much useless shredding of Vietnamese shrubbery, and high but pointless levels of ammo depletion). Marks's claim is, in essence, that videogames do what military training does in this regard: train you to shoot first and worry later.
But let's look at this more closely. In the World War II era, the US was a far more rural nation than it is today. The typical infantrymen grew up in a rural area, and very likely hunted with Dad, and in any case, was quite familiar with rifles and shotguns. The typical soldier today grows up in the suburbs, and if he's ever handled a gun in his life, it's probably at a camp firing range, and then only briefly. Marks's claim is, in essence, that videogames breed greater familiarity with firearms, and fewer inhibitions about using them, than growing up around actual guns. This strikes me as dubious in the extreme.
What really is the inhibition against firing about? It's not about moral qualms, except in rare cases; it's because when people are shooting at you, your instinctual behavior is to find whatever cover you can and keep your fucking head down. It's not only instinctual, it's the smartest thing you can do, actually -- maybe not in terms of achieving your ultimate military objective, but certainly in terms of saving your own ass.
Now mind you, shooting back at the enemy helps, in its own way, because it tends to make them keep their fucking heads down. But remember that the typical infantry firearm during WWII was the bolt-action rifle, a weapon that fires a single shot before reloading. One bullet doesn't make that much difference, and getting it off probably isn't worth the risk of exposing yourself, unless you're pretty sure of your target. Modern assault rifles, by comparison, spit out a virtual hail of lead (well, copper-jacketted bullets, anyway), and shooting them actually makes more sense, from a fire-suppression perspective.
So I think it reasonable to look at Marks's claims, and say: Sounds like horseshit to me.
Submitted by costik on Mon, 06/09/2008 - 16:42.
Submitted by costik on Thu, 05/29/2008 - 07:12.
A comment on a previous post suggested that I undertake to write brief bios about the people most important to the evolution of games as an artform, providing a sense of their personal history, credits, and contributions to the field. I'm not promising to do so, but I started to think about who should be included if I did -- and I came up with the following list (which, since it's long, is beneath the fold). If you're so inclined, take a look at it. And let me know: Who have I missed? Do you think some people included are not important enough to include?
I'm aware that this is an Americo-centric list (although I've tried to give prominent placement to important Japanese designers, at any rate). I'm particularly interested in omissions of European designers of importance, and I'd certainly like more women on the list. You'll note it includes non-digital as well as digital designers. Among my criteria: historical importance; creation of (or being an important figure in the establishment of) a new game genre; commercial importance; a good story.