Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ten Years of an Apathetic Artist

Just so you know I’m not type of person who worries about the future. I think ahead more than a year only on the rare occasion that I am prompted by others. I am graduating this coming January with a graduate degree in Simulation and Digital Entertainment. I fully intend to seek work in graphic design for the first video game company to hire me.

In ten years time I anticipate I will have worked my way up into a games company and be designing graphics for games played on huge TV’s or portable devices with touch screens and holographic goggles. I highly doubt my life will be limited to that. I hope to have by then found a good girl and gotten married. I also doubt my video gaming will have diminished by much though I hope buy 10 years from now I will be doing all my MMORPGs via hollow-goggles and a 120gig mobile device, no doubt developed by apple, though if Microsoft gets it self organized in mobile tech they may manage it first.

Where in the country I will be living, if even still in USA, I am not certain of or for that mater where my friends will be living. I am certain though we will still be in contact and playing MMOs and Pokèmon cards together from time to time. We have already stopped buying new cards so we likely will be using the same cards in ten years.

If the US government hasn’t increased their security and surveillance technology to sickening levels I would be shocked. I would hope though that in ten years of this they will have gotten better at making the surveillance less impeding. The automation of security is likely the least invasive way to survey though I doubt it would be most effective.

I highly doubt I will have moved out of the US as I have never had much skill at learning a second language and most of the best game companies are either American, Korean, or Japanese. I imagine I will have a small heap of obsolete and or broken laptops and PCs either networked to make a stronger engine or just gathering dust, probably the later. My social life is nearly all electronic and like it or not I will not likely have managed to change that in ten years but if I manage to find that wife I will end out splitting that time between family and friends where friends are through the electronics.

Control of my life has never been that much of an interest to me, likely in ten years having gotten married I will be able to delegate that responsibility to my better half. I wonder about transportation in the future of our country. I want to get a motorcycle, not a Harley but one of those quieter bikes, however I doubt roads will be any less congested ten years from now. I believe busses and other mass transit will be even more crowded despite the same or higher congestion on roadways. This is all of course assuming an alternate method is found and implemented for gasoline.

The future hinges on power. Our planet has boomed through the exploitation of stored energy in Oil. Now that its supply is feigning birthrates and economies are plummeting and I believe they will level out at some point. I am certain that our wasteful days will never quite return at the same level.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Reasearch on EZ/Cards

Smart Cards:

Metro Cards:
  • I used a Metro Card during a trip to New York, you pay for them by credit card
  • The card can be used in Subways in the New York city area.
  • also can be used on the New Jersey PATH and on New York bus routs
  • Besides registering for a refillable card that is linked to your credit card it is the only way to use the NYC subway system.

  • A transponder that collects tolls for bridges, tunnels, and toll roads.
  • The EZ-Pass gives drivers discounted rates, lines, emissions, and no longer needing to have $2 change at hand(this varies from place to place)
  • different regions have there own name for it and some are not usable in regions that have their own version. Maryland EZ-Pass, Illinois I-Pass

Survalience Security o.O

I don’t travel much but I have seen security’s invasive escalation over the last few years. In my second semester at UB I received a ticket in the mail demanding of my father: $75 or appearance in court to contest a red-light camera. My father paid the $75 but he wasn’t the one who missed the yellow light by 00.3 seconds. I was going 45 on a 35 mph road and the yellow light was just too short to stop at the speed I was going so I decelerated a little, realized I couldn’t stop by the stop line without standing on the break and just continued through the light at 37mph.

Since that day I have been a bit paranoid about yellow lights. My dad didn’t make me pay the ticket but he did have me mow the lawn every other week for 3 months. I don’t own a car; I drive my mother or father’s car to UB for all my classes depending on what is available. My dad got the ticket from that red light camera because the License plate tags are registered to him. This is a little harder to scramble than RFID but I have read stories of hoodlums stealing or rearranging license plates. I wouldn’t be happy to have some crook running red-lights with my tags and costing me $75 a piece. Obviously we would contest charges of some1 else’s ticket on our plates but it still would be a costly inconvenience.

My life lays nearly %40 in my online personas (assuming “life” to mean socialization). I know my internet activity is wide open to anyone who cares enough to check. As important as my privacy is to me I don’t really care enough to switch to things that though safer may inconvenience me. By this I suppose though given the circumstances I doubt I would have acted differently than Marcus but I currently am in a state to sympathize with Marcus father or the average citizen. I have nothing to hide so why should I care if they watch me? Well that’s a mentality I might hold to but I have been hurt by Red-light cameras and have read many stories of the innocent under suspicion.

It may not de too hard to prove what you are but few if any people have the knowledge to prove what they are not, and the people with the knowledge to those that are not would need to prove themselves is generally gained by knowing too much about those that are. Just having that knowledge can make you a suspect. Seems a little inescapable doesn’t it? That’s why the thought of the government holding someone without probable cause or evidence is so scary. You cannot expect someone who is not to prove they are not and if you assume they are you will waste time effort and resources getting nowhere.

I’ve met several police officers over the years even took a tour of the Baltimore 911 facility. I have never had the misfortune to have been suspected of anything, and nearly all of my encounters with police officers have been on friendly terms. The only time I had encountered a police officer who had focused on me as a possible offender was when I was 8 years old. I had argued with a neighbor kid about my age and had been nearing the point in the argument where things could have gotten physical. We each went home and about half an hour later an officer knocked on my door. Apparently in telling his mother about the argument she had gotten the impression that I had hit him. The officer had talked with my neighbor and he came over and told me that I should try to avoid him for a while. I don’t remember ever hitting that neighbor so I kind of doubt I had but that was one of the scariest encounters I have ever had with a police officer.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Staring Into the Coke Bottle

Emersion is one of the most coveted aspects in recent MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) creating. To date one of the most immersive games I have encountered Guild Wars with its incredible draw distance and gaping caverns with well designed roofs. Avalon Four seems to me like a strap in, in-your-face, and Graphically superior virtual experience. Rather than holding you to a given restrictive story, you are handed a world history and given opportunity to dive into dynamically personalized adventures not too unlike the Primer.

One major reason I’ve never bought Guild Wars, even though it is free to play, is that you can only interact (or see) with people in towns or who have joined your party. I am a player whom prizes himself in how much he has helped others. Without the ability to be of help to another living entity, I quickly loose interest and seek out a better medium. In World of Warcraft I achieve this by wielding the art of healing. Avalon Four takes this player interaction to another level entirely. With the interface literally attached to your face there is room for the nuances of face to face interaction such as facial expressions.

This concept was explored pretty well in Snowcrash with the virtual world very like the later created Second Life. Avalon Four is deeply immersive with every aspect of the avatar controllable on the spur of the moment down to the position of eyelids and brows. The interactions don’t stop there. In Warcraft a player can set their avatar to follow another player and just hope that player doesn’t do anything stupid or take a sharp corner trapping the follower walking against a fence or wall till the target is out of range. In Avalon Four some classes of characters can simply be piggy-backed and leave the traveling to your companion.

Oh how I wish a gnome could just hop on a cheetah form druid and dash off into the distance. While that’s an interesting method of interaction it is not something so hard for games today to accomplish. What really stands out is how the immersion can be super imposed on “Monkey Space” to give augmented reality a new brand of interpretation. At the convention Jack used not just one avatar persona but all his personas from various games at once that hid his true self to anyone not using any very opaque settings on their goggles.

It’s interesting how these goggles have become such a standard feature in cell phones in Stross’ world but not entirely surprising considering the ever increasing number of people roaming the streets today with Bluetooth or other hands-free devices connecting their ear and mouth to a world which isn’t necessarily relevant to their surroundings. Jack shows just how extreme the situation in this future can become when he confronted the poor fool who pulled a knife on Jack who didn’t even notice because Jack was busy tangling with the Virtual representation of the small Chinese fellow as an Orc. Jack missed entirely the very real danger of being in the room with someone you assaulted in any reality.

Charles Stross’ vision of VR/AR acceptance in the future is neither far fetched nor even unlikely with the increasing obsession of mobile communication. There is a very real chance that the next step in hands free cellular technology is to use a projection screen to give a caller ID or confirm a voice command. Already something not seen amongst Halting State’s cell phone advancements is the Sync technology in some cars that allows the driver full control over phone radio/CD player and other features using voice commands. It is only a matter of time before security features developed for this feature allow for even more functions such as unlocking, opening, starting, and even automated parking using LIDAR. If you thought the cars and phones of Halting State are far fetched, you haven’t seen anything yet.

(in case you havn't figured it out, this posts title is a play on Emersion and Coke Bottle lenses(thick glasses))

Friday, November 7, 2008

Maple Story Culture?

in the past two days I have immersed myself in alien territory. I have been playing maplestory for about four years. This was my first encounter with the related messaging boards external to the game itself. I honestly expected there to be more about the various role play and teams. I was a bit disappointed in that the closest thing I found was a Guide to proper maplestory behavior and a 154 reply message about basically; noobs say the funniest.

I must say I guffawed at some of these thing noobs have said (or supposedly seeing as some of these tales are made up) but I did not find much that indicated a deeper culture. in reading the etiquette rules I found that they follow the basic principals most games should follow. Stuff like don't prolong fights by cursing back, don’t kill steal, and especially don't over use the term noob. this reminded me somewhat of the Gor community Meadows found in second life in that they have a socially acceptable set of rules. I should hope though that these maple rules would be more intuitive.

coming up relatively sparse on the Basil market site - They facilitate the auctioning of maple items for mesos(maple currency) - I went to the site of the larges guild in the game, Hidden-Street. Hidden-Street is unique amongst guilds as they have in game guilds in nearly every server of the game. I have been using the Hidden-Street site for years because of one of the things they set out to do to aid the maple community.

The Hidden-Street site has two parts; A message board and a database. this database is used my Maplers all over the game it spans all servers and even includes a section for the MapleSEA version of the game which is a little ahead of our Maple Global. the database is populated by members of the guild filling in the names, stats(hp, atk, ect..), and most importantly item drops of the Various monsters in the game. I can hardly believe there was a time when I fought monsters aimlessly looking for items that couldn't even be found on the continent I was on.

The community side of the site is new to me, though its been there since before the database. In my search of the cultural activities of the Hidden-Street, I must say I am not so surprised at what I found. More than any other thing that keeps people playing maplestory(and i have experienced this as well) is Buddies and Guilds. Without other players to talk with and or group with the game can get very boring very fast. friendships forged in the world of maple can hold players to the game very firmly, this applies pretty evenly to players of all ages(though the average mapler is younger than 18years old).

More than anything on these boards though was Spam and other random messages those not in the group would understand, all very familiar to the experiences of Meadows. On solely text based systems it seems the standard still holds, though there are plenty of sections where that kind of behavior is prohibited.

One thing I was surprised I didn’t find on the community sites is the concept of maple children. More and more in the game recently, people have been taking the in game Marriages system a step farther. The basic idea is that when two high level characters marry in game they can together decide to adopt “newb” players to be their “children”. Meadow’s experience with the lady Gunid and her obsession with babies reminded me of these maple adoptions which I have seen on occasion go deeply into role-play where the newb pretends to be around the age where babies first learn to talk. Of all mapler role-playing this is the one that’s most difficult to miss.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Hallowed Warcraft

Hello, my name is Guenhwyvar. I’m fairly young as those here in Azeroth go. I’ve spent much of the last few weeks visiting whatever towns I can reach, collecting Handful of Candy. This handful’s come from large Jack-O-Lantern buckets the every inn in all of Azeroth and even Outland where I would need to be very strong to be allowed.

In addition to collecting candy once an hour the inn keepers will accept a request of Trick or Treat. When I trick or treat they will give me a costume or an item and occasionally they will do a curse that for a full minute I become a frog, cat, or even a worm. The one thing that strikes me as odd about this situation is how when I trick or treat in an inn every inn keeper in the world seems to know.

The thing that I enjoy most during this Hallow’s End celebration is the collaboration required to thwart the constant threat of the Shade of the Horseman. Each time the Shade attacks the Matron of the local orphanage asks people to take up buckets of water and extinguish the fires set by the Shade. I have defeated several of these shades, though the only way to stop them would be to destroy the Headless Horseman at his grave. The horseman is far too strong for me, though I’ve seen powerful people take on the task and defeat him many times over. Yet, the attacks continue and it seems they will not pass until after Hallow’s End.

I’m an alchemist by profession. I go about the country side collecting plants to make potions. Generally I give my potions to friends, but sometimes I take my extra’s to the Auction House in Stormwind city to sell them to those that want them enough to bid or even buy out my auctions. There are many things to be found in the Auction House. People all over the world bring items of relative value, either created or more often found in Dungeons or while raiding small camps of hostile creatures.

Shop keepers will buy things but chances are other adventurers will pay more. There are many people who do little but shout in cities about their professions or wares and how they can serve you for a usually steep fee. More often than not wares sold this way are cheaper than at auction. I’ve collected a number of magic wands that disguise the target as things like Leper Gnomes, Skeletons, and Bats. There are those who will pay two gold or more for these wands to be used on them.

Sometimes someone will ask me to Duel them. I’ve only had a few duels, usually resulting in my opponent conceding victory to me. Us Druids often get together and transform into Bears. I’m not sure why but we enjoy dancing together as Bears or cats; it is quite a funny sight to see. There are many interactions in mmy world, though there isnt much room for originality in our animations such as dance moves. even with these few issues I think all told this is a world worth defending.