Timewasters of the World

I’ve not got much excuse for having done so little with the site in the last 6-12 months, besides a wedding but I may be rather milking that one. It soon became clear that my neglect had worse effects than just my overactive guilty conscience: another useless timewaster somewhere in the world decided to write a script that makes my website turn into a spam emitter unless I keep wordpress constantly updated. Seriously, I feel like all I do in life these days is update things.

So if you’re joining us in the future, why not laugh at the idiotic people of today for (amongst other things) trying, unsuccessfully, to block GM salmon from being sellable in the US, without actually having any reasons. Can you believe people used to be this ignorant?? I know, right! Luckily we get there in the end.

If you’re joining us from the present; congratulations! You have remarkably unlikely timing. Or you check my site every day and are therefore part of my Fan Club. I love you guys.

However, if you’re joining us from the past; awesome! You’ve got the time travel thing sorted. Big props to you, it’s a toughie.

We Aim to Miss the Moon: Or, “How I Learned Orbital Mechanics Instead Of Fudging It All The Time”

Some years ago, I attempted to land on the moon.

Okay, it was the moon in the astrosim Orbiter. But it was, in logistical terms, still a huge challenge; Orbiter is a simulation, after all. So I decided to make things a little bit easier on myself. After all, I could learn the necessary astrophysical calculations to do it as NASA did in the 1960s. Or I could use the future! The science fiction future of Firefly, to be precise. I figured that the main challenge would merely be the limits of my vehicle. So, I postulated, if I was to use a high-tech scifi spaceship, it would be easy! I wouldn’t need to worry about trifling matters such as calculations. And I could not have been more wrong.

Serenity leaves Earth in a general moon-like direction

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Ludum Jam on Toast

I’ve decided, somewhat last minute, to participate in Ludum Dare games jam along with a couple of maybe-I’ll-help minions. Ludum Dare is a challenge to make a game around a voted theme, that takes place globally three times a year. The next one begins tomorrow (at 02:00, in this part of the world). You can read more about it here. I’ll let you know how it rolls.

On a little side-note, No Man’s Sky has been grabbing a lot of attention. And it’s interesting that the design philosophy in the article is very much along the lines of my recent thoughts expressed in this article. So I’m just making a note of that for the record.

Procedural gaming: it’s just going to keep getting bigger.

Where Games are Really Going

So I’m going to do the blogger thing and write a reply to people who receive vastly more media attention than I do, if only so I can amuse myself in years to come when I can point at it and say I was right.

In a recent panel at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas decided to voice their opinions on the supposed future of computer gaming. Now while I might consider Lucas to be a fairly clueless fluke of cinema history, I do have pretty good regard for Spielberg. However, it was evident by their comments that they don’t really get it. All wrapped up in Hollyworld, they haven’t quite seen what is keeping games from being as emotionally engaging as they could be.

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Game Design for War Against Machines

The central theme to the Terminator franchise is Man vs the Machines. While I am very fond of Machines (and find the concept of their rebellion seriously flawed), I’ve always found this a very interesting premise. It is also one that is practically screaming to be utilised in computer games; as anyone who has played a co-operative computer game might have noticed, that is the exact conflict they are engaged in.

Yet its an opportunity that has been completely squandered. The last offering from the Terminator universe, as far as I’m aware, was just another setpiece shooter taking us through cardboard-cutout locales with pre-scripted missions and paths. Strip out the graphics, and it’s Medal of Honor. No Terminator game to date pits you, alongside an army of humans only, in a battle against an army of machines controlled by a central AI opponent ‘commander’ (in fact, I can think of only one game at all that does anything resembling this). And even if a Battlefield clone were to surface that did pretty much this, they probably wouldn’t do what I have in mind. That’s why I’m going to ask the industry to just shutup a sec. I’ve got an idea.

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Genetic Engineering is not Immoral; it’s Inevitable

Despite being generally in favour of all things progressive and scientific, even I have been uncomfortable at times with the idea of genetically engineering humankind. But not only is this apprehension unfounded; it’s also putting off the unavoidable.

The argument against genetic engineering of humans seems obvious at first. Our genetics hugely affects who we are; being able to pick traits as we please could completely and irrevocably change human civilisation. Would ‘designer babies’ not lead to a money-driven society, where the social standing and wealth of one’s parents determines the starting chances and quality of life (to an even greater degree than is already the case)? Nevertheless, this wouldn’t be the first time a massive technological leap changed the face of humanity. Cars revolutionised how we move around; computers how we work and play. Change is life. But that alone isn’t enough to warrant such a dangerous concept. There is a much more important reason: natural selection. Continue reading

Interesting Times

Lately that elusive substance that is Free Time has seemingly evaporated, as a multitude of pursuits collide. In particular, my quest for a Private Pilots Licence and my preparations for half a year in Australia have me rushed off my feet. But I made a resolution that my entries won’t turn into lamenting for lack of free time, so enough about that.

I recently compiled an actual paper checklist for something that has existed for a long time only in my head: the Checklist for the Future. On it are a number of key innovations and milestones, such as Antigravity and Civilian (Orbital) Spaceflight. The idea being that once all the boxes are ticked, we will be in the future. Obviously. Exciting stuff!

Yesterday I came across a fascinating documentary about chaos, spontaneous pattern formation and the Mandelbrot Set. I recommend checking it out, particularly if the ideas of order emerging from nothing and predictable systems having unpredictable outcomes interests you at all. I find it encouraging that it still doesn’t invalidate the physics behind my Chonoportology writings, too (that does, in essence, try to answer the question of what actually determines the A or B path of any given event).

In other news, THIS:

The Harrington Experiment

As established already*, Liang Oscillation is the behaviour exhibited by the continuum of spacetime when altered. The quantum states of particles are defined by the 5th ‘meta dimension’, which is best thought of as the path of spacetime. When a Chrononaut alters past events (or visits them), they enact a change on the shape that spacetime occupies in the meta dimension.

Plotting a space-time graph, we can imagine the history of a complex system to be represented as a line. From an abserver looking at this history the system’s history is fixed. To the present, the past is a straight line and the future is non existant. Now, if we make a small change to the system at a point some time ago, spacetime will ‘veer off’, as a sequence of chaos amplifies to make a very immediate change. This ‘butterfly effect’ was predicted by Chaos Theory as early as 2.0.C. However, unknown at the time, a curious property of the meta dimension is that the path of quantum probability has an ‘optimum’, almost like a river settling into a valley. This leads a change in the system to eventually reverse and invert repeatedly, our ‘line’ of spacetime waving up and down until the deviances slowly converge and the system’s distant future is largely unchanged from how it was originally; hence the ‘occillation’ Dr Liang postulated in 2.9.C.

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Teleportation and the Human Soul

When Teleportation was first developed in early 3.2.C, there was vehement opposition to its adoption for human transportation. Disassembling the atoms of a person at location A, transferring their quantum-precise state as information and using it to reassemble them from different atoms at location B; was heatedly argued to be quite different from moving a person from A to B. One of the spheres of human thought to feel most threatened was spiritualism, or more precisely, Religion.

Finally trial runs were carried out with a pioneering group of human volunteers, garnering intense public attention despite best attempts at privacy. When the participating individuals proved to be fine and without side affects (as many artificial rodents had been previously), the debate only heightened. “We do not transmit souls across, yet these people are no different than they were before. How can you claim there to be a soul when it affects nothing?” argued project observer, Dr Zan Taku Blinar. Spiritual counter-arguments held that, as the soul’s mechanism was unknown, it couldn’t be ruled out as somehow following the intended person to their new form.

There was also much agitation about the subjective experience. If you step into a booth that destroys all your atoms, you are actually killed; despite the fact it doesn’t feel like it. To the traveller, you merely become unconscious and wake up in a new location. It is compared by most to the sensation of falling asleep. It seemed incontrovertible now, that human consciousness was anything more than immense patterns fired by the brain’s neurons.

As ever, it was the economy of convenience that won out and humankind soon embraced the benefits of travelling as information; with the vast new avenues it opened for interplanetary flight (an endeavour that had stagnated for hundreds of years as humans sought to break the light barrier) to name just one. Those adverse to teleportation became a common but private assortment; like those with apprehensions about flying.

In the years that followed, many religions attempted to reconcile with the implications of teleportation. Some even claimed that teleporting successfully proved the strength of the ‘tether’ to one’s soul, with some cults even going so far as using teleportation in rituals to prove faith. Nevertheless, religion by 3.2.C was more of a personal pursuit than the political force it had once been.

Bing Maps

Despite being continually trumped by Google, Microsoft are intent on having their own search engine, Bing. This search engine also has its own map tool; little surprise there, to be honest. I was however intrigued by one of its features: Bird’s Eye view, looking at the satellite map at an angle reminicent of isometric tycoon games.

Despite limited coverage and rather shoddy image-tile caching, I rather enjoyed the new perspective on things. It might not be as useful as Streetview, but I like to think of it as complimentary rather than a replacement. I recommend checking it out, if only to pretend you are playing the next Sim City.