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august 2010 microblog digest
minutiae Posted 2010-09-02 23:40:15 by Jim Crawford
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August 02

  • Played 4p co-op Doom in San Diego. Alex quickly turned into the antagonist. It's weird how much I enjoy a good griefing between friends.
  • The gate bursts in the Arkham Horror expansions do a great job of slapping the late-game complacency out of you.
  • Via Alex: according to NPR, the "Internet Jerkwad Theory" states that "an audience plus anonymity equals chaos."
  • -- "Treated as an architectural premise, Die Hard becomes an exhilarating catalog of unorthodox movements through space."
  • -- "Washing Machine Self-Destructs." I can't believe he stayed close enough to film this happening.

August 03

  • What Alan Wake Gets Wrong, and Right, About Being a Writer:
  • What Final Fantasy VII Gets Wrong, and Right, About Selling Flowers for a Living:
  • It's vastly more likely that you're white noise hallucinating an instant of life than that the known universe exists:
  • Living your life in constant fear that you'll wink out of existence in the next second must really help make the most out of that second.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows gameplay video: -- I'm having trouble thinking of a lazier use of a magical setting.
  • For fans of the genre, Achievement Unlocked 2:
  • I never understood why so much geek culture is built around fetishization of feudal monarchy. Didn't you guys live through high school?

August 04

  • In my dream, European public transit included a system of gigantic grasshoppers taking commuters between Germany and Denmark in seconds.

August 05

  • If this is a relapse of February's infection, then it's the one that survived both the Azithromycin and the Cefuroxime. Keep your distance.
  • In this hour, I review the opening of Limbo:
  • Eyes:

August 06

August 07

  • Rather than just saying "stat" all the time, doctors should spice it up by using additional languages. Start with "tout suite," maybe.
  • -- The Web 2.0 Suicide Machine: automagically delete your social networking accounts today!
  • -- The Making of: Maniac Mansion. "It was [Ron Gilbert's] idea that a game should be fun to play."

August 09

  • -- Vinay Deolalikar of HP Labs claims proof that "P is smaller than NP for infinite time Turing Machines."
  • In a just world, P vs. NP would be a trending topic right now.
  • (To be fair, this wouldn't be the exciting proof; this would be the proof that we live in the world we already thought we lived in.)
  • Synth progress: started on key/scale/patch selector using existing half-assed textmode interface. Need to rethink note quantization process.
  • Also, Windows binary of the latest stable version: (This uses the half-assed textmode interface I was talking about.)
  • Tom Bissell talking about playing GTA 4 on cocaine: (Excerpted from
  • If that excerpt makes you want to read his book, "Extra Lives," be warned that Tom Bissell is philosophically opposed to spoiler warnings.
  • I'd link you to the essay in which he explains why, but in it he spoils key story moments of several games, basically on principle.

August 10

  • Yakuza 3, reviewed by actual yakuza:
  • Fantastic new service exploits security holes in iOS to jailbreak your iPhone or iPad just by visiting a web site!

August 11

  • Demo scene documentary in progress: -- Future Crew episode:
  • Every one looked awkward. That's how I remember coder life. It still weirds me out to see normal-looking programmers. I don't trust 'em.
  • Narrative card tricks in Starcraft 2: -- "In fiction terms, the writer is almost always on the side of the hero."
  • It's no On The Rain-Slick Precipice Of Darkness Episode 3 -- it *says* it is, but it's not -- but it'll have to do:
  • Photographs of Russia on fire: Did you know Russia is on fire? Well, it is.

August 12

  • Minecraft's accidental business model: 60k users is nichey enough that everyone feels their money matters, but big enough to make you rich.
  • I bet Notch has a million dollars sitting in a checking account and is still living in the same crappy studio apartment.

August 13

  • Synth update: added hooks for a UI to control basic parameters, like patch and quantization key.
  • @Johnicholas Emailed a zipball. Everything but the Windows code is out of date. Can ask Indy to add you to the git repository if you want.
  • Protip: if your new girlfriend asks you to defeat her "seven evil exes," she's going to be referring to you as #8 within a year.
  • Most likely to a guy who owns a functional replica Lancer. What I'm saying is, listen for an approaching chainsaw.
  • Approaching storm:
  • Kieron Gillen interviews Ken Levine re the recently announced Bioshock sorta-sequel:
  • -- "Journalism Warning Labels: Contents Not Verified"

August 14

  • Cat update: cats in the house.
  • I saw Danu once behind the toilet and once behind the front door; Aoibheal vanished immediately.
  • I suspect they're both hiding in the darkness, i.e. in my flatmates' room and/or closet.

August 15

  • The promise of "serious" games is that games are accessible, so if they teach a useful skill, they do so in an accessible way.
  • You see Portal and think "I want the ramifications of that rule set embedded in my brain." And by the end of the game, you have it.
  • The *cheat* of games is that they focus on accessible skills, and you never see the ones that focus on skills that aren't easily conveyed.
  • Polytron first showed their Fez prototype years ago and have spent the time since trying to figure out how human brains can understand it.
  • @Johnicholas (My last four tweets were sort of directed at you.)
  • Dresden Codak has been livetweeting Singularity Summit 2010 all weekend:
  • (Forgot an important part: you *expect* Portal to teach you its rule set. Playing games is never learning-real-skills-hard.)
  • @Johnicholas I know the game, but not of Berlekamp. Do you mean this book?

August 16

  • Podcast excerpt: Shawn Elliott vs. Second Life, from the now-defunct GFW Live:

August 17

  • A great howto on the iterative creative process as applied to game design:
  • There are no games that are "too short." There are games that provide unsatisfying experiences.
  • Valuing games in hours per dollar is reasonable when you're a student or are unemployed and have no money but lots of free time.
  • I have enough money to play all the games I care about, but not nearly enough time. Length is a *cost* I pay to play a game.
  • Some awesome experiences take 10 or 100 hours to convey, but if yours can happen in just 3 hours instead -- or in 15 minutes -- it *should*.

August 18

  • @Johnicholas Well, devs already try to keep that stuff small. The problem is that the public demands a lot of content, leading to filler.
  • I was basically enjoying Alpha Protocol until I discovered it has boss battles. Seriously. I'm running around on foot, fighting a tank.
  • I know it's the fault of idiot monkey-see-monkey-do designers, but it's hard not to blame the boss fight concept for every game it's ruined.
  • "The government should publish how much of our money they're spending to create fear and then spending to address fear."
  • POV of rocket booster separating and falling back to Earth after shuttle launch:

August 19

August 20

  • The Music of Video Games: Blaster Master (Alternate Reality Edition):
  • More highlights from the Alternate Reality Music of Video Games series:
  • (Part of my enjoyment of this is that it's very difficult to replicate a NES game's musical sound design this precisely. Try it sometime.)
  • Winner talks you through the final match of Quake 3 ESL championship: -- Fascinating, and more accessible than I expected

August 23

  • John Walker's retrospective of the original Grand Theft Auto:
  • GTA was bizarrely retro even back in 1997. It was basically a score attack game: multipliers, finite lives, and no checkpoints or saving.
  • Rockstar is still offering it for the price of your contact information, if you've got a Windows machine:
  • GTA lead Dave Jones had previously created Lemmings and subsequently Crackdown. (Then he spent 3 years on APB. Thankfully, that's over now.)
  • The 80stastic "Planetparty," by Games: -- Anyone know the story behind this?
  • I've been messing with Flixel: -- Seems like a pretty straightforward API.
  • For reference, if I complained to you about XNA while I was coding to it: XNA probably would've been *fine* for what I asked Flixel to do.
  • (In other words, XNA would be a perfectly servicable Flash game development API. It only breaks down as an Xbox 360 game development API.)
  • The bass lines of Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • Day of the Tentacle cosplay:

August 24

  • Deathspank 2 already? Too soon. Wasn't established as episodic, so feels like a cash-in -- or like they held content back so we'd pay again.
  • It occurred to me I should try framing that link such that it would be of interest to people other than Flash developers. Viz.:
  • Hey guys, here is a small game I totally just made!
  • @halsted I know he left even before the first game's release, but surely he was heavily involved in design and writing?
  • -- "Every person I know who's lost an eye immediately thinks, 'I should think about getting a camera.'"
  • Portal is required "reading" for freshmen at Wabash College:
  • Pretty sure I twitted this in 2009 -- "highlight reel of weird imagery" -- but the link's broken now, so to make sure:
  • When producing a song I listen repeatedly. I'm pretty sure this was assembled from pieces and never actually listened to:
  • Has anyone timestretched "100 Ways To Love A Cat" to 800% yet?

August 25

  • Video interview with Erik Wolpaw about Portal 2:
  • Street busker playing Wu-Tang Clan cover on electric guitar and foot-drums:
  • Comprehensive video of Georgia Tech's Art History of Games Symposium is online:
  • Guh, the Art History of Games videos are literally painful to listen to. Literally literally. Someone get a noise-reduction filter in there.

August 26

  • In a hundred years, this will be the only known extant photo of President Obama:

August 27

  • -- "Is Chewbacca trapped in my nightstand?"
  • Great idea guys! Let's take the strongest female game lead ever, and give her to the most misogynistic game studio ever.
  • Madagascar's Stone Forest:
  • Idle Thumbs dudes discuss Kane and Lynch 2; propose best game idea: 3rd-person co-op-only shooter in which player 2 is the camera operator.
  • "'New shit has come to light': Information seeking behavior in The Big Lebowski" (I'm really just linking to the title.)

August 28

  • San Francisco Rush for the N64 has one of those soundtracks that sticks with you:
  • The page is down now, but I think this is a laser shining through a droplet of water which is acting as a magnifier:
  • -- Come onnn, kart racer. No whammies!
  • Just realized: Yoshi's tongue in Mario Galaxy 2 uses a target-painting system straight out of a chase-cam shooter like Rez or Afterburner.
  • More details on the laser/water microscope trick. (Featuring scarier microbes but no cat.)

August 29

  • "My friend, when he was a kid, was bummed that he was too young to be the first person on Mars. Now he's bummed that he's too old to be."
  • Brass octopodes:
  • Scientifically-produced "most unwanted music" will statistically be liked by fewer than 200 people in the world:
  • (Features include a children's chorus singing holiday Wal*Mart jingles and an operatic soprano rapping about life on the ranch.)

August 30

  • Pretty sure you need an RSS feed to be a "podcast," but here's an mp3 of Bethesda/id employees talking game development:
  • I'd been meaning to cancel Live Gold anyway. I never use the service. Do you still have to call support to cancel automatic renewal?
  • Instructions on how to cancel auto-renewal on your Xbox Live Gold account: (Recommendation: mute it before playing.)
  • Can't test it myself; dies partway through the process. Would be hilarious if everyone tried to cancel at once and broke the site.
  • (Not that I think an extra dollar a month is a big deal; locking client-hosted multiplayer behind a subscription was *always* asinine.)
  • -- "How do most wrongful convictions come about?" Police misconduct, coupled with refusal to acknowledge errors.

August 31

  • Synth update: Danny installed the latest NDK, which solved basically all our performance problems on the Droid. So that's nice.
  • Loved this book to death. I have intense nostalgia for low-level coding. Wish I weren't so goddamned practical nowadays.
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