Stuff that doesn’t quite fit anywhere else.

ArtMiscWindows 8 tablet, part one

 Posted by (Visited 9651 times)  Art, Misc  Tagged with: ,
Mar 192013

photoGiant post ahead!

Some background: I have been using Tablet PCs for a decade now. Back in the UO days, I always walked around with a paper notebook full of doodles, and I often sketch out design ideas as diagrams and quickie cartoons. With a pressure sensitive stylus I can also then do artwork directly — concept paintings (the sort of thing you then give to an artist so they can make the real concept painting…!) or game sprites or whatever. These days, I carry my iPad pretty much everywhere, and I can code on it a little bit, I can sketch on it, I doodle with it in Notes Plus, and I even have the Pogo Connect pressure-sensitive stylus, so I can use that for art. But I am working on the colored cartoons for the second edition of Theory of Fun, and none of the iPad art programs will successfully load the Photoshop files I need to work in. And I was in the market for a new laptop anyway, so I went shopping for a Windows 8 tablet.

So this post is what I learned and what I picked. I have another giant post done as well, with everything I had to do to get the new machine set up to my satisfaction. It was info all scattered randomly all over the Internet, so I figured that it might be valuable to gather it all in one place. But this post was long enough already! So look for that one tomorrow.

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Game talkMailbagWhy do we like a given game?

 Posted by (Visited 8946 times)  Game talk, Mailbag  Tagged with:
Feb 152013

I was just asked this on Quora, and thought I would crosspost my answer here.

What makes people like specific genres of gaming (FPS, strategy, sports, racing etc)?

What can you tell about people who like only a certain genre of gaming like Fps rather than strategy?

Everyone starts out with different natural predispositions. For example, some people are born with more fast-twitch fibers in their muscles, which gives them the ability to move more explosively than others [Skeletal striated muscle]. Other folks have greater color sensitivity, faster reaction times, better ability to see things that are moving or that are standing still.

Some of these things are spread across a gradient where a person may fall anywhere on the gradient, but there are biases based on the sex of the individual in question. [Men and Women Really Do See Things Differently] We should be cautious about treating this as “biology is destiny” and instead think in terms of statistical distribution; recent metastudies show that overall, sex differences in cognition are weak correlations [Science Confirms The Obvious:  Men And Women Aren’t That Different] but there are nonetheless some large and obvious differences between sexes and of course between people.

These predispositions mean that some things are easier or harder for a given individual. Not necessarily hugely so — maybe only marginally, say 1% easier than the norm. But it doesn’t matter, because of how the brain’s reward system works. Continue reading »

MailbagMusicMailbag: High Seas

 Posted by (Visited 5913 times)  Mailbag, Music
Dec 212012


You probably don’t remember me, but I played Metaplace a while back. We talked a lot about your ship game and you shared a link with me of the music you made. I cannot find that conversation!! Nor can I find the music on your site (unless I forgot what it was called). It was epic and I want to listen to it again.

Also, I know that Metaplace is no more but is the High Seas game out there anywhere to play for fun? If not, you should host it on your web server. It would be epic to play it again 🙁

– Crystal

I am tickled that anyone remembers either the game or the music! Especially given that we are coming up on the third anniversary of the closing of Metaplace.com… hard to believe it has been that long.

The music is called “The Knyghte’s Daliaunce,” as it was not originally meant as a pirate tune at all. I posted it up on the blog (with a chord chart) ages ago. It is also on the general Music page along with links to my album (it’s not on the album though). I really should record a new version of it sometime. Anyway, here you go:

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Game talkMailbagMailbag: I want to become a designer

 Posted by (Visited 23248 times)  Game talk, Mailbag  Tagged with:
Sep 262012

Dear Raph Koster,

I want to become a Game Designer.

As a child I used to judge games very harshly on things like graphics and funness. Although as I’ve grown older I’ve seen there is a lot more to games then meets the eye. I don’t want to sound all professional and stodgy, I’ve just reached the stage in my life where I need to choose my path. Whether it is the correct one will be with the help of you.

I want to be a Game Designer. There are courses at Universities specifically for Designing games or Programming for games, (programming is what I would want to start doing in the industry) although it feels like I’m just the same as everyone else who picked up a controller or keyboard and said “I can do better than this”.

Simply put I was hoping you could give me some advice on how to achieve my dream. The fun is in the learning as a well written book once taught me (wink wink), and the Gaming industry is ever growing.

Thank you for your time,

H_____ P_____.


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Game talkMiscOnline Game Legend

 Posted by (Visited 8711 times)  Game talk, Misc  Tagged with: , , ,
Aug 302012

Today the press release went out announcing that I was selected to receive the Online Game Legend Award at the GDC Online Choice Awards. This award is voted on by fellow developers, and it’s basically a lifetime achievement award.

The Online Game Legend Award recognizes the career and achievements of one particular creator who has made an indelible impact on the craft of online game development.

This rather leaves one thinking, “Well, now what?”

(Warning: introspection ahead…)

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MiscMinor blog downtime

 Posted by (Visited 9005 times)  Misc  Tagged with: ,
May 102012

The blog’s hosting server is getting an upgrade sometime in the next 48 hours… there will likely be some downtime in the early morning hours. They tell me it may last up to a couple of hours.

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 9385 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

 Posted by (Visited 7563 times)  Misc  Tagged with:
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 11522 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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