Wednesday, December 3, 2014

5000 Page Views!

And it only took me four and a half years! Plus, I think a lot of those page views were from bots or something. :P

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Catchup - Abstract Strategy

Catchup - Cool Abstract Strategy Game

This is a new iOS implementation of a cool abstract strategy board game called Catchup. The game was designed by Nick Bentley, and the app was implemented by Martin Grider.

It is good! But these guys need more people to buy the game, so please, if you have any interest in abstract board games and have an iOS device, then consider buying this game!

There's even a well-implemented AI opponent that automatically adjusts to your skill level to keep you challenged.

Go get it!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Catching Up on some Short Dreams

Hi! Just a quick catching up post to describe a few vaguely interesting dreams I had over the past couple of weeks (dreams are what this blog is primarily about, right?).

I had a dream in which I was a policeman trying to stop four teenagers from vandalizing a closed store. When I say vandalizing, I mean that they were inside the store basically destroying all the furniture inside to the point that standing on the street outside the store I heard loud crashing and wood breaking noises. The youths came out of the store, and I told them to get on the ground. They did so, but soon they got up and started running away from me. I pulled out my gun and starting telling them to halt (I think I said "halt," not "freeze"), but they didn't, so I started trying to shoot them, but my gun wouldn't fire. Instead of a trigger, it had a power switch like you'd find on the back of a computer. Like one of these guys:

Eventually, I figured out that it was a revolver with an external hammer mechanism and I was failing to cock it manually, but by this time the hooligans had escaped me.

Another dream I had involved a duck being trapped in a large animal's mouth that looked like a second floor window. I mean, it was like a building, except I understood the building to be a creature of some kind and the window to be its mouth. Weird.

Anyway, the duck was afraid for its life and for the life of its egg, which it was holding in its mouth. I beckoned for the duck to simply jump out of the window to safety, which the duck did. But for some reason the duck neglected to fly and fell to the ground, slamming its head against the pavement. The egg fell from the duck's mouth and rolled away safe and uncracked, but the duck began dizzily sauntering about, clearly seriously injured. I felt bad for having recommended that the duck leap from the window, but I guess it sacrificed itself to save its egg? I don't know. Weird dream.

In a third dream my wife and I were sneaking into a high security warehouse district in search of the new textbooks for the upcoming school year. I guess we wanted a sneak peek? At one point I turned a corner and found myself looking directly into the lens of a security camera, and I was like, "oops." But whatever, nothing happened. We found the books, and I was very excited to look at the physics book. It had a pink cover.

The first dream (the one with the gun and the teenage vandals) was interesting in that normally when I use a gun in a dream, I don't actually have a gun but rather simply pretend to have one and make gun noises and then get frustrated that my imaginary gun is completely ineffectual. Of course, I keep trying, but it never works. In this dream, I had a gun in my hand. Perhaps the difference was that I was a policeman, and so it came with the uniform? Anyway, the gun was ineffectual all the same.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Inverted Puzzles -vs- Contests

Following up on my last post, some measure of debate has occurred at the Dinofarm Games Forums concerning the purported inverted puzzle form. I'd like to try to perform an analytic survey of the issues at the heart of the debate that seems to be happening. For sake of brevity, I will be using "system" to refer to "interactive system" throughout. In addition, I'll be using "inverted puzzle," but please understand that I am not especially committed to this terminology. If you disagree with the use of the term, then just please bear with me. It is merely a term chosen for ease of communication, because I simply need to use one term or another.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ontology of Interactive Systems

I am deeply interested in ontological theories of interactive systems (puzzles, games, etc.), and one such theory that has consistently held my attention is the Four Interactive Forms devised by Keith Burgun and originally advanced in his book Game Design Theory. My own thoughts on how to classify interactive systems spring in no small part from inspiration derived from this system, but as Burgun's theory is expressly designed as a tool meant to be useful to game designers for creating better games, it does not exactly constitute a fully fleshed out and formally defined ontological theory. There is a rough ontology of sorts underlying it, but in the end it was developed only up to a point so as to render it potentially of use to those who are primarily interested in actually creating interactive systems. It is not primarily meant to be of academic interest to philosophers, and as such, trying to use the system to differentiate between any and all systems, especially weird and problematic corner cases, reveals gaps where Burgun has not explicitly provided a full descriptive account that unambiguously answers (or attempts to answer) all ontological questions.

My interest is in producing such a comprehensive descriptive ontological theory. Burgun's theory has served as a sort of springboard to propel my efforts, though by no means do I feel compelled to remain true to the details of his system. The results ought to be comparable (since we are, after all, attempting to describe the same constructs), but differences, whether merely semantic or substantial ontological differences, should be expected. Some of the terminology that we use is the same, though some of it is different.

I intend to record my thoughts on the matter on this blog. The following post is the first of what I hope will be many on the subject, and while at the moment I stand by its contents, the ideas presented here should be understood as being in an unfinished state. I am still working out certain details, some of which are mentioned below.

This article was originally posted on the Dinofarm Forums, the message board associated with Keith Burgun's game company Dinofarm Games. If you, dear readers, are interested in discussing game design theory, then please drop in there and join the discussion!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Nope, No Time for a 7DRL

I will not be creating a 7DRL for the 2014 Challenge this year. I don't have the necessary motivation for that right now.

Instead, I think I'm going to stay up late and work on music for Selatria (which I should have been doing anyway, so...).

Friday, February 21, 2014

7DRL Challenge 2014 - Two Weeks Away

It seems that the 7DRL Challenge for 2014 is going to happen during the week following March 8th. Yikes! Where has the time gone? created a 7DRL last year that turned out rather well, so while it really is a challenge, I know I'm capable of it. Today an idea came to me for what I might try to create if I did enter. So I'm fleshing out the details, trying to work out what is feasible and worthwhile and what is difficult and unnecessary. I am excited! I'm not really sure if I'll end up having enough time to manage it, but I think that's a crucial part of what makes the 7DRL Challenge fun.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rattus Sculptoris

One of my neighbors is a rat.

I don't mean that he tells the police what criminals are doing.

The kind of rat I mean is Rattus mindorensis, the Mindoro black rat. This kind of rat usually lives in the Phillipines, not America, but my neighborhood is unusual. It is popular amongst wealthy and eccentric immigrants. I do not know why.

I have become friends with my rat neighbor. Sometimes I see him poking his head out of one of several little windows on the front of his house, and I start a conversation with him. His name is Iqougguef, but he had to spell it out for me before I could understand what he was saying. I asked if his name was common in rat society, and he said he had never known any other rats by that name. He said that it was derived from the name of a god worshipped by ancient rats. The advent of Postmodernism in rat culture has made religion unpopular.

Iq is a sculptor. I used to see new works that he had completed sitting on the grass in front of his house, but he has started putting his sculptures in his backyard because the other neighbors were stealing them. They do not recognize that rats can legally be property owners.

The sculptures are usually carved from columns of basalt that Iq has imported from Iceland. He polishes the sculptures to make them shiny and black. Many of them are depictions of ordinary objects like ceiling fans and street lamps, though I think seeing these objects carved from basalt makes them seem special. I once asked if I could purchase one, but he told me that he doesn't sell them. I often wonder how he gets the money to buy the stone or to pay the mortgage on his house, but I do not ask because I think it would be rude. Basalt is a very hard stone, so Iq uses powerful machinery to help him carve it. Even if he used soapstone, I think he would need the machinery because he is a fairly small rat. He is also very shy. He doesn't let me watch him sculpt.

But Iq often invites me and my son into his studio when he is not working. My son plays quietly, and Iq and I sit and drink coffee and watch his pet birds wandering through the garden in his backyard. There is a large rock face and two tall wooden fences surrounding the garden. To the birds the garden is a perfect little sanctuary and the sculptures are like ordinary rocks or trees. The largest of Iq's birds is a blue heron that never makes a sound. One of the other birds is a guineafowl that makes a sound like a crow. "Ka ka ka ka ka ka ka!" he says. The heron watches him solemnly like an old man watching his grandchild.