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playing god: game design, strategic networks and a theory of conciousness [02 Jul 2005|08:52pm]
[ mood | chipper ]

I've been trying to figure out a way of representing a game's internal structure for a long time. That's come quite far, and I've got what I reckon is pretty much a complete system which - should I ever get down to the gargantuan task of writing an accessible and comprehensive guide thereto - would possibly make some videogame academics stroke their beards and declare "Hm."

Today, though, I realised that every thought I'd expended in this pursuit was valuable to an older and far more sweeping goal of mine that I had temporarily abandoned: understanding intelligence.


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[12 Jun 2005|03:52am]
[ mood | cheerful ]


Politicians do nice things once in a while.

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so how's the thesis going? [23 May 2005|01:02am]
[ mood | stressed ]


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business plane don't fly [18 May 2005|08:06am]
[ mood | bemused ]

I just can't seem to care about this business plan.

It's due in in 9 hours, it's worth 20cp - that's around 9% of my degree, or something - and I'm currently, uh, about half done. I still don't feel any particular sense of urgency, just faint, morbid curiosity. I'm even vaguely aware that I'm utterly screwed if I don't get it done, printed, bound and handed in on time. I just don't care.


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jobs [30 Apr 2005|07:11am]
[ mood | pensive ]

I'm exploring my options post-uni.

Am I willing to take a 30% (or more) pay cut in order to work on games, in addition to more stress, worse working conditions and bugger all job security? It's difficult. I feel my love of games is being exploited, and I keep remembering the saying...

There are two paths to happiness in life. One is to make a living doing what you love best; the other is to find a living that supports you doing what you love the rest of the time.

I'm in the lucky position of having the *option* of doing the former, at least. Still, I'm finding it impossible to reach a decision, as I'm completely in two minds about the situation. I really want to learn how the games industry ticks and get involved in it. Games are a really exciting method of artistic expression to me and going into games development would be the shortest route to gaining the skills and contacts I need to improve in this respect. However, it's not the only route by any means, and as far as any other measure is concerned it's the dumbest decision I could be making.

I guess I'll have to go round potential gamedev employers and see if I can find any I can trust to treat me professionally. I've heard there are a few, but it's a minority. If I can't, I could see myself finding a career in a more mature industry and continuing game development as a hobby for now rather than a profession. It seems like all I can do at the moment is sort out my CV, run some applications and ask pointy questions like "do you pay overtime?" at interviews. If the answers are good, that's cool. If not, I start the job search over and ignore the siren call of making shiny things happen for a living.

At least, that's how it'd happen ideally. In reality, going round the houses and then starting over like that could leave my job search taking as long as three months or so and that would be a real problem. I'd appreciate any thoughts or sage advice anyone has, I really would.

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addendum: [20 Apr 2005|06:17pm]
[ mood | so full of ANGST ]

I hate my thesis.


...I'm done.

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testing... testing [20 Apr 2005|02:16pm]
[ mood | ranty ]

ranty bitCollapse )

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around and around [28 Mar 2005|05:17pm]
[ mood | busy ]

Borrowed from missing_a_chair.


You scored as Satanism. Your beliefs most closely resemble those of Satanism! Before you scream, do a bit of research on it. To be a Satanist, you don't actually have to believe in Satan. Satanism generally focuses upon the spiritual advancement of the self, rather than upon submission to a deity or a set of moral codes. Do some research if you immediately think of the satanic cult stereotype. Your beliefs may also resemble those of earth-based religions such as paganism.




















Which religion is the right one for you? (new version)
created with QuizFarm.com

I'm confused. Come to think of it, though, any of the top four would be a good fit provided that as a Satanist I could be atheistic and compassionate. And yes, you can... take the religion out of it and pay attention, and you can get this highly mechanistic philosophy, like scientific atheism with a purpose. More realistically, though, I'd say: add the top four together and you're mostly there.

...curious. Anyways, back to my thesis. Some day soon I resolve to make actual progress.
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Stuff, as done by me (and some random munting) [28 Feb 2005|04:55am]
[ mood | complacent ]

Thieved from people. You know who you are!

1. Prodded the Golden Gate Bridge. Been told to leave.
2. Driven a digger, albeit briefly.
3. Beaten 90 seconds on Minesweeper Expert level. Deleted Minesweeper.
4. Strung up computer keyboards from a stair-rail and punched them repeatedly, after missing with a golf club one time too many. (Damn you, golf club. Damn you.)
5. Been utterly useless in a music quiz, and subsequently won one. I'm still in shock, though it's slight.
6. Used a fully functional PC as a clock.
7. Jammed on a Clifton rooftop with a portable amp. Alas, we couldn't find a long enough extension cable.

And now for the easy ones:
8. Slept through a day. That's midnight to midnight.
9. Built up a collection of probably over 300 coke cans (we never counted) and built things with them.
10. Got enough calories from Dr. Pepper to survive essentially without food for a week.
(10b. Recovered completely thereafter.)

Bonus! Though not really relevant, I just thought of this.
Yes, it's *that dream*Collapse )
After a while, I will nod once to the machines now deep in silent thought. I will don my disguise one last time and turn back to the desert. Then... my message will spread like a virus.

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googlebomb [27 Jan 2005|05:38pm]
Google still hasn't hit my new website, which is irritating. So, here, Google, hit this up a little. Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair.

Exams blow... and yet still seem to be going rather well.
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music [29 Dec 2004|09:23am]
[ mood | feh ]

Back from Wales! Ramblings ahoy.

Yay for techno. I've made a track which is almost pretty good for a change, so here it is. I've been trying for a while to come up with labels for whatever the hell kind of genre I'm mining with this sort of stuff; the best I can think of is upbeat progressive electronica, fusing driving breakbeats and raw, retro synth. It seems to put people in mind of 90's game music, I'm guessing because of the pure synth samples and progressive composition.

I think I'm starting to reach a decent level with this, both in composition (on a good day) and sound engineering. Maybe I'll spend a little more time on music and a little less on programming. It'd be damn cool to have an hour's worth of music I actually like because then I could put together an album. No-one would buy it, but it's a nifty idea.

I've got so many half-finished tracks sitting around... I've got two more along those lines, both a little longer and needing just a little editing and inspiration, plus about three other tracks about a minute long each that don't really have a beginning or end that I could perhaps talk into being complete songs. After that there's my older tracks - I've got about 20 minutes of material there, though I'd like to rebuild most of the tracks in Fruity Loops. I built them on cheap hardware and they sound like it.

Anyway... off to Norwich now. Back on Friday.

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pause, inhale [16 Dec 2004|12:07am]
[ mood | blank ]

...and breathe out

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What goes around, comes around. [29 Nov 2004|10:10am]
[ mood | amused ]

Courtesy of all_five_aces and ergoyle.

Put all your songs into one playlist. Put the playlist on random. For the first twenty songs, post your favorite line. If an instrumental comes up, just skip it. Try to avoid putting the song title in the line. Then everyone else tries to guess what song it is. Simple enough, eh?

Owie. That's a 1719 track playlist lasting 128 hours.

1. Nothing better the feeling is so fine, simply put I saw your love stream flow

2. (woah woah yeah) kimi wa mada (woah woah yeah) ano kisetsu (woah woah yeah) o omoi daserukai / itai hodo mabushi katta na

3. A master piece of DNA, caught in a flashing ray

4. And if you think that I don't make too much sense, that's because I'm broken minded

5. Cause when you worry your face will frown, and that will bring everybody down

6. Smoke a big spliff, get myself for a blunted... fall on the floor and I gotta call my S500

7. Acting on your best behaviour, turn your back on mother nature

8. Turning off a switch inside me, leaving all the stress behind me / flying over streams and houses, passing over the wye valley / takes me back to 84, the future's knocking at my door

9. Gonna find you and take it slowly, slowly... when I raise my trigger finger all ya ----ers hit the deck

10. There is a place that still remains, it eats the fear, it eats the pain

11. She's not your satellite, she doesn't miss you, so turn off your smoke machine and marshall stack

12. You grow me like an evergreen, you've never seen the lonely me at all

13. I'm so sorry, little one, you know I said I'd protect you from evil world that you despise 'cause it sucks, so do I

14. Jump all you can and you got out your right foot, the sooner you get out in your hide away, I might be left dead, get out the way, serves a place and time

15. I knew Leo G. Carroll was over a barrel when Tarantula took to the hills, and I really got hot when I saw Janet Scott fight a triffid that spits poison and kills

16. My only weakness is a listed crime, but last night the plans of a future war was all I saw on channel Four

17. She will always be the only thing that comes between me and the awful sting that comes from living in a world that's so damn mean

18. Erhöre einer Jungfrau Flehen / Aus diesem Felsen starr und wild / Soll mein Gebet zu dir hinwehen

19. To avoid complications she never kept the same address, in conversation she spoke just like a baroness

20. The colours of the rainbow are so pretty in the skies, and also on the faces of people walking by, I see friends shaking hands saying "how do you do?", they're really saying "I love you"

Had to cut out three non-instrumental tracks for either containing hardly anything *but* the title or being something by a friend of mine that none of you will have heard. Still - how many can you get?

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just living [24 Oct 2004|03:06am]
[ mood | frustrated ]

I've kinda been unreliable for a couple of days, and I've figured out what's bringing me down. Too many things to worry about. So I sat down and worked out what coursework needed to be in and when, and hah, there's maybe two days work required in the next three weeks, so I'm getting on with Liquid Paint a bit more. It's frustrating being at the very end of a project with no deadline - I tend to skid off to one side when I focus on a project like that, and an ultimate deadline usually really focuses me. Currently, no-one's setting any deadline but me, and I'm a terrible manager. I think I might have to do something... drastic.

In the meantime, happily sheering away from doing productive things, I've done many *other* productive things which just don't line up with long term goals so easily. I've written a program that takes the last panel of any given Sinfest strip and makes a backdrop out of it, uprooting them from context and leaving sometimes amusing, sometimes iconic, sometimes intriguingly incomprehensible things to look at. I think it's fantastic - you're presented with the end of a story and challenged to think backwards, and a precious few of the panels present no clues whatsoever about what just happened. When looking forwards, people are comfortable to imagine what might happen next. They can do so by considering how the characters might react and so on. When looking backwards, however, without evidence to guide me I at least draw a total blank. I'm not used to telling stories to myself that way. It's a blank moment, totally lost for a second or two, and then the mind re-engages. It's amusing.

Continuing this vague arty trend I decided to try some vectoring/digital painting/tracing/whatever for a new user pic, and took this image of an island fox cub as my unwitting victim. I think it came out rather well. It's amazing how much information you can put in a single stroke of colour, though that probably says more about people than about painting. Maybe I'll add some detail later on.

(And I promise I'm not obsessed with foxes. Really. It's just a lot of vague coincidences.)

So, what's next? Given the state of the Liquid Paint to-do list, it should be DONE ANY TIME REAL SOON NOW. I really need to solve this problem of end-project motivation once and for all so I can really get on with things - it'd be a lot better. If I don't, of course, I may start missing more and more lectures as I sink into an apparently productive, utterly chaotic light depression. I don't know. I'm still this childish...

And now, if I didn't finally feel like doing some work, I could get some sleep. Why I want to work now of all times, when it's inconvenient, I have no idea... maybe it's some kind of limited time available principle in play, I don't know. I need to talk to some people and figure all of this out.

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on marketing, a footnote [19 Oct 2004|03:06pm]
[ mood | apathetic ]

The Independent reports: strong advertising affects people's ability to make rational choices.

It's almost too easy to make a case against ads...

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For good... or for AWESOME? [09 Oct 2004|04:14am]
[ mood | so very high ]

It's four in the morning, and I am SO hyper right now.

I've been trying to figure out happiness, motivation and self-preservation for a while in my pet AI theory thingamy. I thought I had a solution a while back, but it didn't work; it seemed off, but it was the best I could come up with... still, I couldn't really see how it could work. I'm pretty sure it couldn't, now, though it took a half-hearted attempt to program it to figure *that* out.

After that, I thought... so what if happiness and learning are all tied up in some neurochemical? So... when you're in pain, there's hardly any of it about... then when you're happy, there's lots, and it reinforces everything you just did to make yourself happy again by huge amounts so you remember it for next time - making sure you habitually avoid pain, pre-emptively! It'd be totally ninja. So, a little doubtful but with this hunch nevertheless, I went looking for some kind of link between happiness and learning capability...

dopamine dopamine dopamine dopamine dopamine dopamine dopamine dopamine

...ehehehe. It's not the real thing, but until really recently people thought it did exactly what I'd hoped for - and they seem to think there must be something else that does the parts of the job dopamine doesn't (it's still being actively researched; a Nobel prize was partially awarded for related research in 2000).

But hey... step back five, ten years and assume dopamine is it (and it may still be; like I said, it's still being researched). When you find something that makes you happy, bam, burst of dopamine. This encourages learning, so dopamine reinforces whatever it was you just did to make you happy. It's awesomely powerful stuff; it turns us from roving databases, creatures of nothing but habit and programming (like ants, eh!), into systems with comparative free will... save for our goals. We can't choose those, just (limitedly) how to prioritise them.

Oh, and some more freaky stuff. Doing coke has the same effect as a blast of dopamine to the skull. In other words, crack blasts your nut with the very chemicals that make you repeat things that make you happy. Sound like a problem? Hell yes. No wonder it's the most addictive chemical substance known to man.

Dopamine. Neural networks really were missing something... I gotta add it to my simulation. The last piece of the puzzle... and I am getting such a hit of it right now.

In conclusion: I rock socks off foxes in boxes. Locked boxes, with toxins (they're Schroedinger's foxes.)

Oh, and don't do crack.

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not so fresh [30 Sep 2004|04:41am]
[ mood | cheerful ]

I just got back from (finally) sorting out my student registration, which was painless, and from Fresh - which wasn't. egh.

I got there at about 9:30 and it was fairly empty. Things seemed like they'd be OK, though the warning signs were already there; most stalls weren't set up yet and there was still a minor crowd. Still, I met up with andy, james, kate and mickey and hung around for a while - looking vaguely lost, I imagine - waiting for various stalls to open up.

They did. And lo, five thousand freshers descended upon the union.

At this point, I should mention that the lifts were out of order for the duration, and this is a six storey building. By eleven, it was absolutely heaving. Still, I managed to do the rounds and get signed up for various things: sci fi, anime, BITS, SIGGRAPH and tai chi, plus James pushed me towards the philosophy society (literally). I'm just now realising that I actually intend to go to all of these at some point, and that I'm signed up to enough social type things for them to clash. Absurd...

...oh yes - on the way home, I devised rules for standard Bristol Combat Mao, the drinking game. Maybe at some point in the near future two decks of cards, four or more comrades and a pub will align and I can inflict it on all suckers good people involved. Don't fear - it's fairly similar to Northwell.

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throw away your television [28 Sep 2004|02:18pm]
[ mood | thoughtful ]

Advertising is bad for society, bad for business and bad for innovation. It must be stopped.
Read more...Collapse )

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[28 Sep 2004|05:27am]
[ mood | cheerful ]

Saw two foxes walking back tonight in the space of half an hour, which has to be some kind of record. I love urban foxes - there's a whole bunch of em, it seems, and they don't really bother anyone much. They more or less put up with and take advantage of humans instead of depending on them, which beats city cats, and they're cooler than squirrels because - let's face it - it doesn't take much to hunt down nuts.

I'm also fairly sure there's sufficient foxery around for them to be breeding. At least, the second fox tonight seemed a lot younger and more timid than the others i've seen around. So hey... Bristol is an ecosystem. Who'd have known?

Anyway, right now, I'm trying not to think of buying Final Fantasy XI. It's hard. ergoyle let me play around for a couple hours, and I've found the joy in taking a lass out to the fields to pummel rabbits with her bare fists so she can afford the clothes her parents never could...
MMOs rantCollapse )

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programmer's block [24 Sep 2004|01:48am]
[ mood | jubilant ]

Getting stuff done rules.

Liquid Paint line tool in actionCollapse )

This has been the next thing on my to-do list for almost two weeks now, and I studiously avoided it until today - finding other, little things to do on it sometimes, but mostly just doing nothing. Anyway, I mucked in this evening and did it, all of it, including the cursor for drawing and stuff like that. So yeah, I'm quite happy.

On a less positive note, I now have less than a week to pay my tuition fees. Banks are stupidly slow at doing things... I really could have used my extended overdraft a couple days ago. Eh well.

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