Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 25% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY25". ×

Comment Re:If its as good as FO3/FNV I am so there (Score 1) 229

If F4 is moddable (and there's no sane reason for it not to be) then many launch issues will be sorted by the community within a year. As good as F3/FNV were it took fan support and fan-made patches to make them stable, let alone playable, on modern systems.

If you have F3: GOTY and have all DLC for New Vegas, you might want to give this a try at some point: Tale of Two Wastelands merges F3 into FNV and gives you an F3 start, the FNV rules, and access to everything in both wastelands. I added a TTW developer-supplied mod to slow down experience gain and after 120+ hours I still have plenty to do and I'm level 46 (FNV level cap) - using FNV mods like NVAC, Project Nevada, etc.

Comment Re:Five stars for.. (Score 3, Interesting) 246

It's an action film, and it tells its story through action. It does it so well, that I'm not completely sure I've ever actually seen it done before at all.

My thoughts exactly. I've never seen an action film this good, let alone a hollywood action film, let alone in the theater. It's the first film I've experienced that's actually exceeded my expectations.

Comment Re:Neglected the Rule of Cool (Score 1) 90

As a creative type who's done the research and who's intentionally let military history and physics inform (and "correct") their storytelling and vehicle design, you do not speak for all of us.

Though that is speaking as a writer. Speaking as an artist, sometimes the function winds up being deduced from the design as opposed to the other way around.

Comment Re:Forget about being dead... (Score 1) 182

Depending on the design and just how serious you are about keeping it around you could convert it to a static site. You don't have to worry about wordpress or plugin updates if there's no CMS on the server.

That said, I have a number of sites that get next to no traffic and probably the biggest issue with maintaining a WP install these days is theme and plugin updates. Trim those down, strip out comments (or move the "responsibility" for them to something like Disqus), fiddle .htaccess* if you're feeling paranoid, make a backup and let 'er rip. Or rot, as the case may be.

* It's possible to allow only a specific IP to see wp-admin, or no IP at all. The biggest problem with this approach in my experience is forgetting that you've set the condition.

Comment Re:get em young, get em forever (Score 1) 352

My high school had something like that in the 90s. It was a cheap way to inject advertising into a completely captive audience under the guise of "educational" programming.

Viewing was initially mandatory but early in eleventh grade I unplugged the damned thing so I could study and the response from the teacher and the rest of the class was a mix of acceptance and relief. That year the school was running the thing first and third lunch (lunch being three 30 minute periods) which meant our class got it twice... and we preferred a solid hour of journalism class to 15 minutes paid advertorial 15 minutes of class, repeat.

That was my first attempt to do something about invasive advertising - and it's been an uphill battle ever since!

Comment Re:Define "Qualified" (Score 2) 407

Why train employees when you hire the exact pre-trained skill set you need? Companies aren't hiring programmers or developers or designers, they're hiring 5+ years javascript, node.js, SASS, ruby on rails, .net, and/or whatever other buzzwords they think they need. Even the most outlandish and demanding job description will get a list of candidates, from which the company can select a proper "culture fit."

Networking matters more than paper qualifications now more than ever before - we're heading for a post-labor world and nobody bothered to inform the workforce.

Comment Re:my experience: (Score 2) 269

They don't need to give a crap about how developers feel about the platform - they're printing money and the fanbase will bounce anyone critical of what they're doing.

Seriously; try voicing any sort of well-reasoned logical criticism of the brand - in short order some kool-aid guzzler is going to try like hell to make you feel like your problems with OS X or iOS or Final Cut Pro or QuickTime codecs ("using Apple products for more than five years," basically) are your fault and not Apple's.

Comment Re:Cognitive load (Score 1) 167

If they honestly wanted to add functionality, the Firefox developers could do it in a way that didn't disrupt existing users. Apple did this more or less right with Spaces, Expose, and the Dashboard - I don't use any of them, I never will, and I don't have to to perform the same basic tasks I've been using a Mac for since the 90s. The shortcuts are on the keyboard and in the system preferences but it's difficult to accidentally invoke these things unless you're looking for them. They're unobtrusive.

The frequent buzzwordy trendy chrome-chasing "disruption" designed to draw attention to the changes is one of the reasons I left Firefox - I don't need my browser to "reinvent" itself at random. That happens enough with iTunes, thank you. I need it to get faster, run the add-ons I want, and otherwise not change at all. Firefox isn't really a browser anymore, it's a UX playground with a captive audience that's slowly trickling away to browsers that don't change their core functionality as much, or as often.

Chrome recently tried to push graphical bookmarks on me - an under-handed and unannounced violation of trust that gave me a panic attack. Fortunately the change was easily reverted, but it was a harsh reminder that no browser is safe - developers drunk on kool-aid can and will change whatever they want whenever they want it doesn't matter how strenuously users object or how well-reasoned our arguments are, we're always dismissed as "edge cases" or brushed off with a dismissive "nobody uses a browser that way."

Comment Re:define terms in article summary (Score 1) 44

That's a fair point.

Still, there's plenty of room for the /. editors to pad the copy with a brief explanation of whatever the thing is - like how 2/3 of any article about North Korea or the Iranian nuclear program is boilerplate that people who follow the subject have read dozens of times already. The people who know what the thing is skip over those parts and newbies don't have to go somewhere else for an explanation.

Comment Re:define terms in article summary (Score 1, Interesting) 44

Indeed. I'm too busy struggling to stay almost not quite embarrassingly behind on front-end buzzword compliance, and now this? I'd have no idea what it was if I wasn't friends with a devops specialist. Ditto Chef, Hadoop, and a few other extremely specific buzzword compliant "concepts" tech writers whisper about in worshipful tones.

I kinda miss the era in which a general computing proficiency was possible. Specialization used to be for insects.

Comment Re:How to explain default key bindings? (Score 1) 116

I don't know how a controller reports itself to the system, but it probably makes sense to take a balanced approach - if it's possible to sniff an x-box controller then present the appropriate menus; if it's unrecognized then the oldschool List Of Options makes sense - while you can account for a good number of popular variables full coverage just doesn't seem to be economically feasible, especially for small developers.

Keyboards present their own problems - the French, for example, don't use WASD - the keys in those positions are ZQSD (see here). I use a Mac keyboard on my PC - it was easier to just bring it along than to retrain muscle memory for a windows layout. I haven't had issues with games since screenshot functionality was added to Steam (f12). My control/alt/"windows" keys are laid out differently... and I have F13-F15 and no "print screen" key. I'm an edge case on Windows but that's a standard Mac layout, and a variable to account for with multi-system ports.

Oddly, back when I played EVE Online I was able to map drone controls to F13-F15 on the PC... but the Mac port, with a Mac keyboard, didn't see the F13-F15 keys. I haven't tried to map those keys on other games, as the majority of my game time these days is keyboard and mouse with the left hand in the general area of WASD.

The advantage of the keyboard is that the basic shape doesn't change much - the sizing and spacing of the meta keys between Windows an Mac keyboards and localization differences aside it makes sense (to me, anyway) to separate the keycaps from the keys themselves. Localization and the occasional rogue Dvorak layout seem to be the biggest issues. There are a few weird split "hacker" or "ergonomic" designs but I haven't seen one in the wild since around 2003.

If you went with a keyboard graphic for a controls menu I think any design would be acceptable so long as it fits with the rest of the game's UX - I wouldn't expect a representation of a factory-fresh bondi blue Apple USB keyboard in Metro 2033, though a banged-up IBM Model M missing a few keys would fit right in (and could be used to, say... indicate that the Windows key is unmappable - just an empty socket). I like Half-Life 2's implementation - Valve uses a custom font for UI icon display (all the guns/weapons are font characters) - I don't know if their keyboard representation is done the same way but it makes sense that it would be. There are a few basic shapes/sizes for keys and a full board could be assembled with a small number of glyphs/objects.

I think that in a roundabout way we've summarized why consoles are attractive for developers - they're fixed, comparatively slow-moving targets. :)

Comment Re:How to explain default key bindings? (Score 1) 116

Not hardcoding names/functions is a an excellent idea; I'd totally accept seeing "Press Start" on the title screen on a console or if I had a controller with a "start" button plugged into the machine.

Re: keys - this is a UX issue with a number of different approaches. The keybinding menu on PC games is typically a lengthy list of $function [ $keybind ] - FORWARD [ W ], CROUCH [ SHIFT ], USE [ E ], etc. Some games present the keybind menu as a list, some break it into sections ("exploration," "combat," "utility," etc). I have yet to see one that shows the keyboard as a graphic in the way I've seen some games show the controller, as a graphic or technical drawing with clearly defined labels. The experience of displaying and remapping keybinds has plenty of room for improvement - it doesn't seem to get much love in large part because many people don't change the defaults, or when they do it's once or twice and that's it... or they use a controller. The existing editing interface is similar across most games I've seen allow for it; as it stands now it's low-hanging fruit for UX development.

WASD is so omnipresent that it's considered a solved problem; knowledge of what those keys do is assumed to the point where they aren't even covered in tutorials anymore. Half-Life 2 did a good job of relaying controls to the player in-game - while a game that did this sort of intuitive and timely reveal with its menu system might not win any awards for it, the work would not go unnoticed.

Re: Big Picture - I'm not in the living room demographic; I don't know how many people have a TV-sized display hanging off their PC. I do know that text two feet away and text eight feet away need to be different sizes to appear the same relative size to the human eye, regardless of the number of pixels on the screen. Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas are the best examples I can think of offhand that account for this, albeit after market. Darnified UI is a mod that, among other things, changes the font size, making it possible to fit a lot more text on screen without scrolling. I think SkyUI does the same thing, though I have "before" and "after" experience with F3/FNV and have never played Skyrim without mods.

Basically, it boils down to polish - some games feel right, some don't. There's no need to go totally overboard in one way or the other; I think game developers could stand to make fewer assumptions about their target demographic (assuming controller, assuming Big Picture, etc - if you're building a PC port assume there's at least a few people out there who use the things as something other than glorified skinner boxes).

Comment Re:completely irrelevant (Score 1) 116

In Bethesda's case the policy seems to be "let the community figure it out." Skyrim has SkyUI, which really takes advantage of the real estate (and cursor). Just allowing for mods and having well-documented tools is a step in the right direction - the people that are bent out of shape enough to do something about it will, and the people that don't mind aren't going to be looking for UI mods anyway.

JC2 handles fine on the PC - the fact that on first run it loaded to a "Press Start" screen felt like sloppy QA more than anything else. Apparently the game plays fine with a controller - why the game expects one instead of checking to see if one is plugged in is beyond me. Psychonauts actually has x-box controls in the game menu screens - it would be cool if those weren't there by default and popped up when you're playing with a controller but as-is the x-box menu screens really drive home the fact that the PC version is a port.

Borderlands is fine once you get used to it - I came in from the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series so the fact that the BL games are very arcade-like to the point that an the "INSERT COIN" message on death would not be out of place was pretty jarring. Like the Metro series it doesn't need a particularly deep or complex UI.

I wouldn't mind some developer out there remembering that ten percent of the population is left-handed and making handedness a character option, but that's ultimately up to the animators and not a console -> PC issue. Ever watch a lefty use a bolt-action rifle?

As to interface improvements, in the general sense... allowing for key remapping is a pretty standard feature - to the point where having hard-mapped keys that can't be remapped can be pretty jarring (F1/F2/F3 in Fallout 3 / New Vegas, for example). Allowing for customization without clearly explaining why the keys are where they are by default can cause difficulties as well - Dishonored allows for remapping but the default layout is fairly organic once you're used to it.... muck around with one or two keybindings and suddenly RSI is through the roof... with no menu indicator of what the old keybind was without resetting everything to default.

The real console -> PC issue seems to be font sizing and use of real estate more than anything else - PC users are typically sitting closer to smaller higher resolution screens whereas console users are typically sitting further back, looking at larger, lower resolution displays.

Comment Re:completely irrelevant (Score 1) 116

I bought my PC to build and render 3d environments and assets for my webcomic. The fact that Steam was the second thing I installed and the Orange Box was the first PC game pack I bought is gravy - if the hardware can't be used for productivity I have no use for it and I'm not wasting money on it. Entertainment is a secondary function.

That said, the fact that Borderlands, Skyrim, Just Cause 2 etc. are all running barely-localized console interfaces makes me feel like the PC is a second-class citizen, shoved to the back of the line in favor of consumer hardware that can't do anything else. :-/

Programmers used to batch environments may find it hard to live without giant listings; we would find it hard to use them. -- D.M. Ritchie