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Comment: Re:The new start screen is great (Score 1) 294

by Kelbear (#46697915) Attached to: Windows 8.1 Update Released, With Improvements For Non-Touch Hardware

I'm fine with Windows 8 too. I think the hate stems primarily from people who are attached to using the start menu. If you're not among those that use the pre-windows 8 start menu on a regular basis, there just isn't much that has changed in windows 8.

I like the new task manager, and the winkey+type to search functionality. Occasionally I mount a virtual ISO in windows 8 without needing a standalone program. I still don't know how to use their tile screen very well, but I pinned my shortcuts or placed them on the desktop, and I don't need to both with their tile screen. Overall, not a lot of benefit to windows 8 over windows 7, but also not a lot of downside. It was just $15 to get a legitimate windows license for a new PC I'd put together so I went with windows 8.

Comment: Re:Another student? (Score 1) 114

by Kelbear (#46420799) Attached to: Mathematicians Are Chronically Lost and Confused

Had a professor in college who taught only 1 class for the semester. After that, he assigned topics to each student in the class with a few suggested areas to starting researching their topic.

Then every class for the rest of the semester consisted of students going up and presenting their findings, while the professor questioned them to guide their presentation to key areas, and clarified/corrected/expanded on their presentation as needed to ensure the audience gets the information they need for the exams.

This. class. was. awesome!

Being given responsibility to dive into a topic on your own, and having to develop enough understanding to present it to others was a huge breath of fresh air and a ton of fun. Very satisfying to go up there and nail the answers to everyone's questions. It also prepped students on how to handle public speaking, beyond the simple 15 minute memorized presentations you'd give in highschoool, but actually teaching a class for an hour.

Comment: Re:It's not free (Score 1) 212

by Kelbear (#46408817) Attached to: PC Game Prices — Valve Starts the Race To Zero

Steam's move is just the natural extension of what they have already been doing to the games industry. Publishers had set pricing at the console manufacturer's stated standard of $60 and refused(or were discouraged) to let their pricing float with the market for their games. This led to games being strongly reliant on a big marketing push and collecting nearly all of the game's lifetime revenues within the first few months after release.

Steam steps in and aggressively pushes discount offers, creating sales to customers who weren't willing to pay $60, but were ok with paying $40 for an older game. That still left behind a lot of people who were willing to pay $30 for an older game. But the discounts keep coming and getting sharper as the game ages. All-in-all, Steam showed those publishers that discounting can get them money that they would never otherwise see. On consoles, the used game market had ballooned tremendously by taking advantage of the ability to sell games at lower prices. On PC, the publishers/developers can sell at used game market prices through discounts, and get a taste of that customer segment.

Now Steam is letting them control their own prices. Many will continue to leave their game at full price and opt for limited-time discount strategies, others will decrement their pricing as their game ages. But now that Steam is showing them the light, they are now being invited to decrease their prices on their own initiative. Many games find new life in sales, and have opened up the possibility of resurgent sales during the long tail of the game's lifetime. (Through Humble Bundle AMA threads on reddit, developers noted that the nearly-free "sales" on their games through humble bundle causes matching sales spikes on Steam, their theory is that any time they increase their exposure to the gaming community it revitalizes interest in their games and renews word-of-mouth marketing. I thought that was interesting since up to that point I had thought that the nearly-free humble bundle offers were holding down profitability of indie games).

Comment: Re:Now and then.. (Score 1) 270

by Kelbear (#46347169) Attached to: How much time do you spend gaming compared to 10 years ago?

I hate to say it, but Planescape Torment and WD are far and away the best writing in gaming that I've seen. On the whole, the medium is still learning how to mature and find it's own legs in storytelling, and I think that's an important facet to consider. Games shouldn't try to be books, comics, or movies. The interactive nature of games is what lends the medium it's distinctiveness from the others and the best storytelling in games will consider that fact.

With that being said, though the writing in the game is very minimal, I think the storytelling in "Gone Home" is fantastic. It was a great experience that I highly recommend with the caveat that there is virtually no "game" here. It's a story being told through an interactive medium and it works surprisingly well. I don't recommend reading anything about it if I were you, because it's best experienced by going in without any expectations.

I haven't had time to start "To the Moon" yet, but I've heard some good things about it. This "game" is also entirely focused on story.

A lot of the games though of as having the best story really just hinge on snippets of interesting events, a twist, or memorable lines. Understandably, most game plots are just connective tissue connecting gameplay sequences and this really limits what they can achieve with the plot. Bioshock 1 had a great twist, Uncharted/Portal 2 has great characterization, Mass Effect has an interesting universe, Star control 2 too, but story just isn't a primary focus in most games. Spec Ops:The Line tried to hit an interesting mix between gameplay and plot, where the gameplay is at least part of the overarching theme. Unfortunately, the execution was just too spotty.

Comment: Re:Now and then.. (Score 1) 270

by Kelbear (#46335799) Attached to: How much time do you spend gaming compared to 10 years ago?

I think that you're looking at WD through different levels of engagement (which is a legitimate failure on WD's part).

I don't consider the scale of a game to matter, only the direct impact to the player i.e, if the game is about saving a girl, vs. saving the world. I don't think saving the world automatically makes the game any better. Just like how I can change my son's life, or change the lives of a small community in Africa, my son's life matters much much more to me than theirs.

I think your enjoyment of WD season 1 depends on your approach. WD's story mattered more to me because I willfully engaged myself with the role of the protagonist. With that perspective, Clem isn't a character to protect, she's your equivalent of a daughter.

Another difference that might be important here, I bought WD at Episode 1's release, rather than after the entire season 1 had already been completed. That means that the future wasn't written, and anything could happen as a result of your choices at the end of an episode. You say we'll be at the hotel no matter what decision we make. But for me, it was a real possibility that we were going to make it onto the boat.

Also, I played WD season 1 only once, and that's intentional on my part. My decisions are what happened, and "what could have been" is irrelevant, in which case the illusion of reality, and reality is the same. If we, as human beings, live in a deterministic universe, wherein our decisions are not born from "free will" and our ultimate ends are predetermined...what difference does it really make in your life? If you think have free will, in a sense, you've have free will. I can play the game a second time to see what could have happened differently, but it wouldn't change what my original experience was, and it'd only serve to reveal the seams which weren't there in the first place (It's like going to a captivating play...then jumping up on stage afterward to pull back the curtain to reveal the production crew and criticizing the play for not having been "real").

Also, depth is different from length. Some of the best sci-fi stories are short stories, and require very careful craft to engage the audience in interesting ways within the medium. Good writing requires an editor. But I'll speak to this issue more directly.

I was given 3 small pieces of food, 2 of which I immediately gave to the children, leaving me with half an apple and a choice of who to feed. An incredibly meaningless decision compared to saving the universe right? In my case, that apple represented 1) Values, I could feed the kids and my emotional needs, 2) Utility, I could feed the people who I considered allies amidst rising tension in the group...which could save my life or Clementine's when those tensions came to a head, and 3) Justice, there was a vile man who I had vehemently clashed with in open aggression due to a misunderstanding that had happened earlier.

The half-apple was power, and responsibility, I was charged with a duty to distribute the food fairly. I might be deciding who will live and who will die as an indirect result of who I decide is deserving of eating this food. I considered each person in the group and my reasons for giving it to them, or not giving it to them.

I came back to consider my enemy. We had a misunderstanding and ended up on opposite sides. We had fought for what we believed was the right thing to do, and as a result he was my enemy. Here I am, in conditions where selfishness would be so /easy/, I could abuse the power of this half-apple and wield it as a tool to serve my whims. Why in the world should I give my enemy my half-apple?...But what would that say about me? Giving him the apple was the hard choice, and I took it.

In the end, he didn't even appreciate getting that half-apple, he thought I was trying to buy his allegiance. I didn't care, because that wasn't why I did it. The game made me look inside and ask how long I could hold onto ideals in dire straits. That kind of introspective interaction with the material is a hallmark of great writing. What's more interesting, is that this was a videogame fostering this kind of thinking, through it's interactive nature.

I'm not putting down PT by any means. It's a classic for good reason. If good writing is something a player is looking for in modern games. WD is where I'm going to point them.

Comment: Re:Now and then.. (Score 3, Informative) 270

by Kelbear (#46325661) Attached to: How much time do you spend gaming compared to 10 years ago?

A lot of people lament the dearth of innovation in gaming. When asked what they want? They ask for sequels to games they already played.

But that's ok. Because people aren't looking for new ideas in games, they want "good" games. New ideas that are poorly executed are still going to result in a bad game. Old ideas with great execution are going to result in a good game (assuming the idea hasn't been worn to death like WW2 shooters). People just want good games.

So here's a few in line with the games you've called out.
1) Planescape torment - One might reference Neverwinter Nights games (specifically with the expansion stories) to get the isometric D&D style gameplay. But the gameplay in Planescape was not important at all, it was all about the protagonist's existential dilemma and top-quality writing, that's the element that people remember so fondly. With that in mind, The relatively recent game I'd recommend that you try is Walking Dead Season 1. If you don't watch the show, or read the comics, that's fine, because this game is both totally unconnected to, and is much better than the source material. Unless you're the kind of person that likes to jump on the bandwagon of hating things that are popular? This "game" has hardly any game mechanics to speak of because this is an RPG in the purest sense. You play a role, and the entire focus of this game is on making you really feel like you're IN the role. You make weighty decisions that result in significant consequences.

2) Morrowind - Play Skyrim. The mod community for Skyrim is just as lively as Morrowwind's.

3) Wizardry 8 - They just released the 10th Might and Magic game in January 2014, M&M X. It's still a party of 4 adventurers you customize and take through the world on a turn-by-turn basis. Don't know how good that game is, but Legend of Grimrock which is also using the same formula, is definitely a good game.

As for new ideas, look towards the indie space on Steam. There's still plenty. I don't play games as often as I used to, and I too have fond memories of games going back to Dos prompts and Nintendo cartridge-blowing days, but I still see great things happening in the games industry and I don't believe that all the highwater marks had already been reached in the past.

But going back on topic, I definitely play games a lot less than I used to. I won't have much free time until the kids are older. In the meantime, I find I experience most of the new things happening in gaming through "Let's Play" video channels on youtube or Twitch where I watch someone else play games while I'm doing dishes, folding laundry, etc.

Comment: Re:consumerism at its finest (Score 1) 49

by Kelbear (#46305441) Attached to: Google's Project Tango Seeks To Map a 3D World

Pretty sure most of the big stores (at least those with a perpetual inventory system) include location markers like aisle 4, shelf 5, 30 units (you can see those RGIS count tags left behind on shelves in the store with that information after a midnight inventory count).

If a product aisle 1, shelf 3, they'd just update that location in the database. So the store's indoor navigation map shouldn't just keep routing to static product locations, but just query for the current location. The underlying 3d map of the store layout would still be valid for navigating.

I like the idea of mapping public spaces like that, sounds like Google is laying a foundation for quite a lot of useful technologies with this data (whether we want them or not).

Comment: Re:Hrm... (Score 1) 354

by Kelbear (#46082587) Attached to: New Russian Fighter Not Up To Western Standards

Is the combat strategy of overwhelming opposing forces by sheer numbers no longer workable? I'm sure 5th gen planes would fly virtually unopposed in many scenarios, but wouldn't the hundreds/thousands of cheap disposable drones they could get for the same price would be incredibly difficult to stop too when sent en masse?

Comment: Re:No (Score 2) 337

by Kelbear (#46082333) Attached to: Is the West Building Its Own Iron Curtain?

Can you elaborate on that? Why does Luxembourg want to rent a fighter jet? What threats is that jet meant to protect against? I get why larger countries need military forces as a defensive measure, but given Luxembourg's scale, it seems like there's no military force short of nuclear weapons that they could raise that would present a deterrent against potential aggressors.

Comment: Re: Lesson from this story...don't be a glass hole (Score 2) 1034

by Kelbear (#46027097) Attached to: AMC Theaters Allegedly Calls FBI to Interrogate a Google Glass Wearer

Stepping back from the specifics of this event, the issue of inadvertently pointing recording devices at other is an important hurdle for Google Glass that will need to be addressed.

1) It makes other people uncomfortable, but more importantly:
2) It makes the wearer of Google Glass uncomfortable to be making other people uncomfortable (unless they're an inconsiderate asshole).

This severely restricts the practical uses of Google Glass to only situations where public recording devices are commonly accepted, such as school sporting events, family gatherings, and the like. It's not usable in the many situations where a smartphone is acceptable. This makes Google Glass a very tough sell to the wider public. So to that end:

Sell it with a lens cover. Make the cap a different color than the rest of the frame (preferably an accenting color for fashion, or just plain black.), so that it's obvious that there's no recording going on.

The result is that walking around with an uncapped google glass is equivalent to walking around with a smartphone camera held in front of you at face level. Walking around with a capped google glass is equivalent to walking around with a smart phone camera aimed downwards. It's giving a clear signal to others that you're not trying to record them in secrets.

I'm sure some will point out that there are stupid people who don't understand what a lens cap is and that it means they're not being recorded. To that I would say: There are always stupid people, regardless of the situation. But this solution is a cheap and easy fix to address the majority of scenarios. Hope someone at Google picks up on this early enough. (I guess Griffin might do it if Google doesn't. I bet they can't wait to sell you a ton of inane accessories for it).

Comment: Re:Wearable Tech (Score 3, Insightful) 134

by Kelbear (#45958149) Attached to: I Became a Robot With Google Glass

Well, let's think about it. What if some parent showed up at the swim meet with a camcorder to film their kid's performance? Soccer game? Marching band? Maybe a birthday party? Those people aren't getting punched in the face today, what if they try filming those events on their phone? When they film it on a head-mounted camera, is it punchy-time yet? No, it's fairly well understood by those present why that person brought a recording device and it's accepted that recording devices are likely to show up at these kinds of events.

Now, if someone sat down on the subway in the seat across from you and pointed a camcorder at you (whether or not you can tell it's off), that's clearly unsettling and I could very well imagine that person getting punched in the face. It seems there are already fairly clear social norms around when you can record in public. An etiquette for its use has already been established, and in reports from those using the explorer models, I'm already starting to see examples where the writer felt uncomfortable putting on Glass in places like the aforementioned subway. Word about how to recognize the appropriate etiquette will spread in time, and the usage will eventually follow (and of course we'll have people with bad behavior too, much like smartphone creep shots today). Overall, I'm not exactly in a panic about this technology. I'm also not terribly concerned about using Glass to record my kid doing things because the only time I'd take out the Glasses is in typical recording situations.

Comment: Re:Wearable Tech (Score 3, Interesting) 134

by Kelbear (#45951777) Attached to: I Became a Robot With Google Glass

Like most first-gen hardware, it's going to be a rough experience. Doing the limited release they way they have was a good idea.

In the meantime, I think the most compelling part of Google Glass is the first-person recording. There are other wearable cameras of course, but they typically record from over-the-head views. It seems like Google Glass is a unique video recorder for parents.

  Like that saying: "The best camera is the one you have with you" nearly all of the pictures and video of my son are from my phone. Our family's actual camera stopped being used after we got smartphones last year. One of the most annoying problems with the phone is that I have to position the phone, and aim the phone to record moments with my son that I want to remember later. That means I have to choose 1) between recording the moment so that my wife and I can remember it for years, or 2) watching the moment directly instead of watching it through a fucking phone. With Google Glass, I get to see the moment directly, while also getting a first-person recording for later. Plus I wouldn't have to hold it while I'm waiting for the right time to start the video or take a picture, it's ready to go.

If a consumer version of google glass comes out that isn't insanely expensive, even if was garbage for everything else, I might still buy one to just to record special events.

1 Billion dollars of budget deficit = 1 Gramm-Rudman