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Suit up, son! You're going to Mars!

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Jeu de Semaine, no. 5 [Apr. 22nd, 2011|10:09 am]
Suit up, son! You're going to Mars!
Last night I finally started playing Portal 2.

Two Words:Collapse )
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Jeu de Semaine, no. 4 [Apr. 10th, 2011|05:00 pm]
Suit up, son! You're going to Mars!
Last night I played No Thanks!Collapse )
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More on Mandatory Fun. [Apr. 10th, 2011|02:32 pm]
Suit up, son! You're going to Mars!
I wanted to expand upon my earlier post about Mandatory FunCollapse )
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Mandatory Fun [Apr. 6th, 2011|11:12 am]
Suit up, son! You're going to Mars!
A couple times recently, I've seen a board game whose rules include something of the form:

"Fun is mandatory. If you're not having fun, find something else to do."

While I concede that this statement contains some truth about the player's role in the game-as-activity, I find myself irked by game designers who feel the need to put this in their rules.

As a game designer, isn't it your job to provide me with fun?

Statements like these just seem like an attempt to blame the customer for sloppy game design.
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Jeu de Semaine, no. 3 [Mar. 29th, 2011|11:42 pm]
Suit up, son! You're going to Mars!
This week's game was Puzzle StrikeCollapse )

Also, apparently I think a week is ten days.
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Jeux de Semaine, no. 2. [Mar. 18th, 2011|09:03 pm]
Suit up, son! You're going to Mars!
I played two new games this week: Red Dead Redemption and InnovationCollapse )
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No Fly Zone [Mar. 17th, 2011|08:17 pm]
Suit up, son! You're going to Mars!
Am I the only one who speculates that, had we not fought a needless war in Iraq, that country might have been among those fighting for its own freedom today? Had we not already spent so much treasure and goodwill, so many human lives, we might have had those resources now, to put to use in chaperoning a widespread democratization of the middle east.

Had we not assumed the role of interlopers, maybe we would have been welcomed as liberators.
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Coding Opinion: Insertion Points Convey Intent [Mar. 10th, 2011|04:03 pm]
Suit up, son! You're going to Mars!

Consider (A):

As opposed to (B):

void do_the_work()
{
    if (can_do_the_work())
    {
        start_the_work(); 

        if (can_finish_the_work())
        {
            continue_the_work(); 
            finish_the_work(); 
        }
    }
} 
void do_the_work()
{
    if (!can_do_the_work())
        return; 

    start_the_work(); 

    if (!can_finish_the_work())
        return; 

    continue_the_work(); 
    finish_the_work();  
} 

We might imagine that start_the_work() and continue_the_work() are actually mutliple lines of code.

Read MoreCollapse )
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Two Games [Mar. 8th, 2011|01:23 pm]
Suit up, son! You're going to Mars!
I've decided that I don't play enough games.

No I don't mean that I spend too little time playing games. How could that be? I mean that my game-playing lacks breadth. Over the last twelve months I have played something like 200 hours of League of Legends and probably another hundred hours of Magic, with a smattering of other stuff.

The tradeoff between breadth and depth in one's game consumption is something I struggle with. Play the same game too much and you miss out on everything else that's out there. But if you don't play a game enough, you run the risk of not truly understanding it. How strong at Go do you need to become before you "get" Go, in the sense of having a functional understanding of its mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics?

I suppose that other media have the same problem. How much of one's reading does one devote to a particular author, or a particular genre? But games are unique in that they have an unbounded amount of depth to author. Spending a lifetime playing Go is quite different from spending a lifetime reading Huck Finn.

The point is that I've decided that I need more breadth in my game diet. To that end, I am going to try to play a new game every week. Maybe I'll even blog about it. I welcome your suggestions of new games to try.

This week, I played two new games: Inside a Star-Filled Sky and Far Cry 2Collapse )
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Worst charts ever. [Feb. 13th, 2011|02:30 pm]
Suit up, son! You're going to Mars!
Take a look at this page.

One could not ask for a more succinct lesson in all the possible failure modes of chart creation than this.

First we have a perfectly fine pie chart, titled "Identity."

Then we have "View of U.S.", which is this crooked bar-graph-like depiction of three approval ratings. Except that "more favorable" values are represented by a longer skyward-pointing arrow, which means that the objects with more favorable ratings appear lower on the page. So really it's a "disapproval" rating. How intuitive!

Next we have this disaster entitled "U.S. Pakistan policy." It looks like a pie chart sort of, but it adds up to 217%. WTF? Oh I see, it's just three separate percentages each representing responses to a yes/no question. How does the picture help me at all?

Now we have "Greatest Threat Facing Pakistan Today," which should be a pie chart, but instead is a series of shrinking icons. I get it, we're too cool to use two pie charts on the same page, even when that's the best representation.

Then comes "Earthquake aid," our third depiction of yes/no question data. Oh I get it, it's like a pie chart but with concentric rings instead of sectors. Hmm. I wonder if it's by linear measure or by area. Oh wait, it's not rings. It's actually two separate disks stacked concentrically, with the front one occluding some of the back one, with no meaningful conservation of visual area.

Next is "Which is an Act of Terrorism?" Instead of sensible pies or bars, we get these sticks of dynamite tied together. Classy. Is there any conservation of length here? Where does the actual bar begin and end? Why are "yes" and "no" aligned by their centers, but "no" and "don't know" are aligned by their bottoms?

Finally, we have "Religion," a perfectly fine bar approval rating bar graph. I guess someone needed to show us that they actually do know how to make bar graphs after all. Except the arches at the top kind of distort the size of the bars, obfuscating where the 100% mark. And it seems like they ought to have sprung for a fourth color.

Dear Part & Parcel, designers of these charts. Please back away slowly, before any more charts are harmed.
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