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Comment Games (Score 1) 322 322

I noticed a couple of talents over at the University are making some kind of shared consensual AR game that runs inside of our Virtual World netnodes. Turn-based strategy. It's based on the idea of "What if we never went to Alpha Centauri, and instead, society had developed from the industrial base as it existed on Earth in the early 21st century?" They've got some wild ideas about how things might have gone, what the consequences might have been, etc. Some of their "predictions" are a bit fantasy-like, but it's mostly good hard science fiction.

Comment Re:so... (Score 2) 172 172

It's one of those rare ones in the Discovery tech tree, where you don't get a new weapon or base facility, but it's a prerequisite to some other, totally kickass tech. That next tech doesn't seem to be the docs, though. Actually, I can't even find out if this tech makes a Secret Project available. It's all undocumented. You just have to play to find out what happens, I guess.

Comment Re:Will increased exposure make the market rationa (Score 2) 140 140

When the bubble finally bursts, Bitcoins' value will hover around the cost of the electricity & equipment to mine them, so investors can write off the purchase as a slight loss or slight profit.

"Energy is the currency of the future." --CEO Nwabudike Morgan, "The Centauri Monopoly"

A currency based on something solid, pretty much impossible to fake, and hard to get confused about. Compare that to national currencies base on different people's varying fuzzy perceptions of the stability of the issuing government. Sounds pretty good, actually.

I think you're right (it'll stabilize at that price) but others think it'll deflate. This'll be interesting to watch. And damn useful to have a pocket change, for those usenet server subscriptions which don't take paypal anymore.

Comment Launch solar shade (Score 1) 757 757

I always have coastal cities and their production lines are far too important, to disrupt with a build order for domes. When sea levels rise (and to be fair, I'm usually the most to blame for it), there's always a planetary council call to launch a solar shade. I don't always get my way, but those who oppose me on the issue will the dominated ASAP if I can, so that we can re-vote on the issue at the next opportunity.

I'm not saying Earth's current factions are wrong simply because they don't play like me, but... it sure looks dumb. And as is typical, those who you'd think have the most to lose (or at least should think they have the most to lose) are the ones most responsible for the problem and best equipped to do something about it.

I know what you're thinking: it's zero sum. Sure, the developed countries will lose many cities, but so will their opponents. (Earth example: US might lose New York but Nigeria will lose Lagos, and Nigeria is poor so their loss of Lagos will hurt more, ergo, US wins by this disaster.) I would point out, though, that the more advanced factions will have a greater investment in their cities. Also, if you know what you're doing, your HQ will be coastal (always put your HQ on a coast) so that you can send sea crawlers to ocean hotspots. Winning a large map game is always about energy, in the end, because more energy means more tech, and more tech means both 1) better weapons and 2) first shot at the best Secret Projects. And hey, your coastal HQ probably has some mighty fine Secret Projects in it. Those are irreplaceable. This isn't the kind of situation where zero sum thinking is wise.

Comment Morgan talks about this kind of thing (Score 1) 414 414

In "The Ethics of Greed" CEO Morgan criticized scientists for doing things similar to this. If I may paraphrase him: You ivory tower intellectuals must not lose touch with economic needs. It is all very well and good to pursue mathematical challenges, but supercomputer time is expensive. You must justify your existence by providing not only knowledge, but concrete and profitable applications as well.

Comment Stop putting ALL your points into Discover/Explore (Score 1) 904 904

This question is why you shouldn't put all your research points into Discovery and Exploration; you need some balance. Research Build technologies too! If you just concentrate on growth and related social engineering, you're just going to end up with lots of drones, leading to riots unless you counter with lots of police (if possible) or diversion of other resources into pumping up your bases' psych.

CEO Morgan doesn't have this problem. He can afford the Longevity Vaccine. I don't mean afford it just in terms of building the secret project, but afford it in terms of addressing the consequences. If you do things right, you can grow your bases to great sizes while also keeping them in perpetual Golden Ages, and this can be done by diverting a mere 10% of your incoming energy to psych! 10%, that's all you need. And I promise you: you will not get there unless you research lots of Build techs.

Comment It's all true, but he left something out (Score 1) 229 229

I don't have planet busters until my scientists invent Orbital Spaceflight, and then that gets me these wonderful weapons deliverable only by rockets, never by needlejet or any other technology. And likewise, I don't have any other space tech until I have these rockets. Rockets are the key. You can't have planet busters or spaceflight without them.

And trust me, no matter how hard you try to get along, there's always some pro-war nutcase who wants a vendetta. You must arm. That doesn't mean you have to nuke anyone, but you damn well better at least be trying to get the technology. He is so right about the evil genocidal leaders. Stuff just doesn't ever get done without these kind of people.

One thing I was shocked to see Stephenson miss, though, is that you also need Pre-Sentient Algorithms. Orbital Spaceflight can't exist without it; it's a path dependency. (This is why, in the pseudo-reality (Earth simulations often played on the computers at the University) outside the true reality of SMACX, computer Science basically starts in the 1940s after you build something called Bletchley Park.) I cannot imagine how the author of Cryptonomicon, of all people, missed this.

Comment In the end, they'll be pragmatic (Score 1) 377 377

The UN can talk about banning it, but once they get the message that all their coastal cities and resource squares will be inundated within 20 years, they're usually pragmatic (except for wackjobs like Santiago or Miriam). I've found that there's virtually no downside, anyway. Don't worry about the UN saying they won't do it. When push comes to shove, you can often bribe enough holdouts with a few techs or credits, to get the majority that you need.

Comment Looking God in the Eye (Score 1) 197 197

Why do you insist that the human genetic code is "sacred" or "taboo"? It is a chemical process and nothing more. For that matter -we- are chemical processes and nothing more. If you deny yourself a useful tool simply because it reminds you uncomfortably of your mortality, you have uselessly and pointlessly crippled yourself.

Comment Re:I'm already excited (Score 2) 286 286

a lot of AC was so campy it was a bit disturbing - i.e. religious people in the far flung future, seriously?

Oh no! There's something disturbing in the dystopian future!

SMAC is a game. Sometimes you want to grab your opponents by the lapel and shout in their face, "You idiot, quit being difficult and let's just cooperate," but if they actually did that, it would be a boring game. Fortunately, people don't all get along. They're divided by economic ideals, ecological ideals, civic ideals, etc. Why not religion? Religion is a great divider. I don't want to know what kind of people Miriam or Dierdre would be like if they weren't bat-shit insane; I like them how they are.

The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and to watch someone else doing it wrong, without commenting. -- T.H. White