Stuff that doesn’t quite fit anywhere else.

Mar 152012

This is post #2,342 on this blog (not counting the dozens of articles, snippets, and presentations not in the blog database)… yet more of the over a quarter-million words written here since the site started in 1997 and the blog in 1998. And I have to admit, I tend to take for granted the idea that people have read all the stuff that matters, so they understand me when I throw around terms or assume that they know what my past writing on the topic is. Which is ludicrous, of course.

So I got asked on Twitter for a list of my juiciest game design posts, to serve as a central jumping-off point.

This was hard. But here’s a list of ones that I think are my best. Many of these are actually talks, rather than posts. These are usually in sort of rough reverse chronological order, but there’s plenty of places where they are just in the order I found them in, or random cut & paste order.

Feel free to list your own favorites in the comments. And if you haven’t seen some of these before, well, this is the best way to catch up on my overall beliefs and philosophies on games.

Theory of fun (cognition and games) and game grammar overview. This covers the very highest level structure of the thinking on these two interrelated subjects.

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MiscBlog hosting upgrade

 Posted by (Visited 7558 times)  Misc  Tagged with:
Jan 162012

WebPageTest waterfall of page loading here

I just upgraded my hosting plan, and we’ll see if that solves issues with the site performance. In addition to everything I mentioned in my last post, I also took some additional steps to improve performance, captured here for the sake of anyone else who has issues.

  • I fired off an email to the maker of Category Icons, which seems to be one of the common slow queries. For a while today I had it disabled outright, but I seem to have more headroom on this new hosting plan, so the icons are back.
  • I found that wp-cron.php, which is what the blog uses for scheduling posts and other cleanup tasks, was generating a lot of hits — as in, a quarter million this month alone, far outweighing most of the blog traffic! This appears to be a common problem. I followed the advice found here on how to disable WordPress’ built-in cron stuff and instead use a regular cron job. We’ll see how that does and whether everything works more or less like before.

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MiscSpeeding up the blog

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Jan 162012

As you may have noticed if you have been visiting the site lately, it’s been both running very slow and also periodically giving lots of database errors (“error establishing a database connection”). So tonight I did a bunch of stuff to try to speed it up; I have no idea if this is enough, but it should be better!

Here’s the list:

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MiscWatchingPics from Anime LA

 Posted by (Visited 7228 times)  Misc, Watching  Tagged with: , ,
Jan 082012

Here is an assortment of pictures from yesterday at Anime LA. I spent the day there shepherding a gaggle of teen girls who were all doing Homestuck cosplay.

If you watch my Twitter feed, you have already seen these. The one of Darth Vader as #1 dad went a tiny bit viral. There are also a TARDIS, a bunch of candids as people try to eat hamburgers while in costume, a
walking rage comic that was my favorite costume of the show, and of course, there is an arrow to the knee.

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MailbagMiscAGH COMIC SANS!!!

 Posted by (Visited 5820 times)  Mailbag, Misc  Tagged with: ,
Aug 152011

Dear Ralph,

I am going to study Game Architecture and Design in a few weeks, and I received the books for this education yesterday. Your book “A Theory of Fun for Game Design” is also part of the obligatory literature. When I took a look at the book, it quickly made me deeply disappointed. The book contains text typeset in Comic Sans. Besides being ugly, the font is not intended to be used for serious messages. I won’t go into details here, but I would like to point out to you, the website http://comicsanscriminal.com/. I cannot take text printed in Comic Sans seriously, and I regret that my teachers require me to read this comic book as part of a scientific education. I hope that you (or whoever typeset the book) will choose an appropriate font next time.

Kind regards, Ruud v. A.

That would be because the book is half cartoons. The cartoons have text in Comic Sans because, well, they’re cartoons. Some of them are even actual comics with multiple panes arranged sequentially and everything.

You’ll be pleased to know that the book also has headers typeset in the comicsanscriminal-recommended (and undeniably ugly) font Basically Functional.

MiscUser Spam Remover for WordPress

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Mar 132011

Version 0.9.1 of User Spam Remover for WordPress is out, and I wanted to recommend it because it is the only tool to remove fake users that has ever worked on my WordPress database.

Earlier versions didn’t work, and the plugin author, Joel Hardi, was doggedly persistent in following up from a comment thread post all the way to emails as we sent SQL queries, logs and DB structures back and forth to one another. Now it works like a charm, and I am pretty sure the result has sped up my blog a fair amount.

If you were one of the 6000+ users who were deleted because of lack of comment posting activity, sorry. :) And if you have a WordPress blog and were driven batty by hundreds of “new users” a day, this is the plugin for you.


MiscBlog maintenance

 Posted by (Visited 35573 times)  Misc
Mar 082011

Two updates to keep people apprised of:

  1. My hosting service, Bluehost.com, is moving the blog to a new data center. This will happen “between 10 PM, March 7th and 5 AM March 8th (MST), during low traffic periods.” This means the blog will be down during those times. They expect it to take 1-3 hours.
  2. You may have noticed, if you ever go over there, that the Theory of Fun site is currently down. It is in the process of moving as well, only with a lot more hassle because it’s changing providers as well. So there’s probably a 1-3 day delay there while that happens. Once it comes back up, I am thinking of doing updates on it — it was an old-school hand-coded site back in 2004 when I made it, and now it looks hopelessly out of date.

Game talkMailbagA few interesting links

 Posted by (Visited 5679 times)  Game talk, Mailbag  Tagged with: ,
Aug 162010

Just got back from vacation! I had a lovely time. I also had some interesting stuff sent to me, which has piled up in the mailbox. So here’s a couple of interesting links.

The editors hope to attract a wide range of writing to Metaverse Creativity, including ideas about artificial-intelligence systems, landscaping, zoological and biological creations, and even virtual-world fashion design. Second Life’s relations to psychology, law, and technology are another focus. Plans for MC‘s first issue include a piece on how technological prostheses—beginning with the telescope—have altered human perceptions. Another article explains what neuroscience reveals about the benefits of the kinds of brain plasticity that simulation in virtual worlds can enhance, while a third edges up demurely on love in Second Life with a take on virtual-world adaptations of Korean romantic puppetry.

Avatars as Editors – PageView – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

If I can meet my kickstarter goal of $5000, phase 1 of my trip will commence. Starting in Korea, where I currently reside, I will fly to Vietnam, and explore Southeast Asia via land travel (bus, train, walking) over a period of 4-5 months: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar.

I will then venture into China, and make my way towards the coast, where I will depart for Japan sometime in the Spring, in time for the planting season, where I will most likely spend some time volunteering on organic farms. I’m scheduling about 6 months for the whole trip…

If I can meet my $5000 kickstarter goal, that should cover most of my expenses through Southeast Asia, Japan and China. I would like to make at least two games for each country I visit, so we’re looking at probably 10-15 games. There’s no cookie-cutter mold for the games, though, so it will also depend on the size and scope of each individual game.

ArtGame talkMiscPlaying with the iPad

 Posted by (Visited 9697 times)  Art, Game talk, Misc, Music, Reading, Watching  Tagged with:
Jul 182010

I have an iPad, as of about a week ago. I have now had the chance to try it out on a trip, as well as general home use, and I think this sort of form factor is probably the future of computing for most folks. It’s clearly early days still for slates like this, but you can see the path from here, and it is an interesting one, with variations depending on who needs to use the tablet. In the meantime, with some trickery, it can do most of what I would need to replace a laptop. Basically, I am now carrying it everywhere, and on my trip I booted up my laptop exactly once, and it was to create and display a presentation — I didn’t have a VGA adapter yet, so I couldn’t project from the iPad.

I have already spent over $100 on apps for it, and thought I would share some of my thoughts. I tend to favor free and cheap apps, actually, so the below is me trying to be a skinflint and failing!

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