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Comment: Re:Will the door have windows? (Score 3, Insightful) 277

by nine-times (#46823739) Attached to: 'The Door Problem' of Game Design

I wonder, would a truly unlimited interactive novel be fun to play? It could be tested out by a kind of Turing test scenario. Have a player play such a game, and have a real novelist provide the "game" text. Of course such a thing would entail the player waiting a considerable time between "moves". But it would mean that their input would be boundless, they could do anything in the "game".

Well when I've thought about it in the past, I imagined it a bit like having an old-school D&D game with a dungeon master. Of course, that'd be a hard thing to do.

I always loved the old text adventures, but it's annoying that they were restricted to canned responses. You might come up with a great solution to a problem, but if it wasn't what the programmer had anticipated, you'll get get a message saying something like, "I'm sorry, but you can't do that." I would think coming up with something that allowed you more freedom would be an interesting problem to tackle and a good challenge for an AI researcher.

Comment: Re:Difference between erratic & erotic (Score 1) 538

by nine-times (#46822935) Attached to: The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science


Roughly 70 percent accepted that we have a genome and that mental illness is seated in the brain; about 20 percent were uncertain on these subjects, and the doubters were few.

Honestly, I don't know what it means to say "we have a genome". Is that a meaningful statement? I would be uncertain about agreeing with that just because it seems like a weird thing to ask if I accept it. And "mental illness is seated in the brain"? Does anyone actually feel like we can sum that up so easily? We don't even understand what mental illness is half the time, and I don't know what it means for "mental illness" to be "seated" anywhere.

It seems like a dumb survey and the motivations are suspect. I feel uncertain about the Big Bang, not because I'm a creationist, but because we had to rewrite our understanding of time and space about 100 years ago, and we still haven't really settled the issue in a conclusive way. The Big Bang seems like the most likely explanation we have, but if you told me that we'll make a discovery in the next 100 years that will lead us to a significantly different explanation, I wouldn't be too extremely shocked.

So maybe we shouldn't be so quick to jump on the "everyone is stupid!" bandwagon.

Comment: Re:Easy answers (Score 1) 277

by nine-times (#46822783) Attached to: 'The Door Problem' of Game Design

If there's a door there, it should open. If it won't open, there shouldn't be a door there. How hard is this? Putting a door there that's never going to open just frustrates the player and destroys the suspension of disbelief.

I don't know if I agree. Games are, in many ways, about presenting the player with illusions. If you have a big open world, you might put stars in the night sky with no way to reach them. The stars aren't really there, and you're artificially limited to traveling along the ground, but you're being presented with the illusion of being immersed in a complete world.

For another example, in the Grand Theft Auto games, there were many buildings that the player couldn't enter, but a few that he could. Should they have gotten rid of all the buildings that couldn't be entered? Then you have a big empty world.

With doors, I think it's often stupid to add doors that can't be opened, but sometimes that's part of the game-- to find out which doors can be opened. Sometimes it's just adding texture so that you can imagine that there are many things beyond those doors you can't open, adding to the realism and immersiveness of the game. If you're going to add doors that can't open, then the person designing the video game needs to make sure that they play the appropriate role in the game. If you're supposed to know that you can't open the doors, then there might be an appropriate visual cue. If you're supposed to try to open them, then you don't want an obvious cue, but you do want there to be something to indicate whether the player should give up or keep trying to open the door.

I think what's being pointed out is that there are many subtle decisions made by game developers that game players don't notice. It's not that they're necessarily hard decisions, but if you're presented with 100 of these decisions, it can be hard to have your choices result in a game that's both technically feasible and fun to play.

Comment: Re:Will the door have windows? (Score 1) 277

by nine-times (#46822599) Attached to: 'The Door Problem' of Game Design

I'd rather have a game that didn't look as nice, but had things that reacted much more as they do in the real world.

I sometimes wonder, what if, back in the days of text adventure games, video game designers had not put all the money and effort into graphics, but instead put it into natural language recognition, world models, and artificial intelligence? Like imagine the millions of dollars we put into graphics, instead going to make a super-advanced text-based adventures where you can really explore a world and do whatever you want.

Of course, knowing our civilization audience, those games would all be procedural military games anyway.

Comment: Re:Intentional sabotage? (Score 1) 151

by nine-times (#46818639) Attached to: Next-Gen Thunderbolt: Twice as Fast, But a Different Connector

I'm not sure USB and Thunderbolt are redundant. They may occupy different spaces, but Intel/Apple have not done a good job making the distinction clear with their marketing.

For example, I believe that you can have a USB hub, but the Thunderbolt design pushes you in the direction of daisy-chaining. Thunderbolt is treated as an extension of the bus, providing very fast two-way communication, while USB is much more limited. The end result is that USB is more fit for simple peripherals-- e.g. mice, keyboards, external hard drives. Thunderbolt seems better suited for devices that you would otherwise want to be internal, e.g. docking stations, high-end RAID, external video cards.

I'm not sure there's anything that USB does that Thunderbolt can't do, but it seems that you can produce simpler/cheaper peripherals with USB. Meanwhile, there are things that you can do with Thunderbolt and not with USB.

Comment: Re:Meh (Score 3, Informative) 124

by nine-times (#46817693) Attached to: Lytro Illum Light-Field Camera Lets You Refocus Pictures Later

It's mostly a solution in search of a problem.

I think you're right that most people haven't been searching for this kind of camera, but I think you could have made the same argument about digital cameras in the first place, as well as computers in general. Things were just fine before. Professionals who were used to doing things the "normal" way saw them as more trouble than they're worth. They were expensive and had technical shortcomings when compared to the conventional solution.

However, it allows you to do something new that you couldn't do before. I'd say there's a good chance the technology will be refined and you'll see this sort of thing become cheaper and better. People will find cool and interesting applications. Something neat will probably come of this.

Comment: Re:I like it! (Score 1) 204

I think it's noteworthy that people outside of NYC are usually more upset about the NYC "nanny state" than the people who live here. The trans-fat ban was a big talking point for conservatives, as evidence that the government was sneaking into every personal decision you make. However, it was ultimately a decision by a local government (don't conservatives like local governments?) to regulate the restaurant industry. While conservatives around the country had a collective freak-out session, I don't think New Yorkers were talking much about it, and there were many who viewed the decision positively. We eat out all the time, and many of us would like to know that the food doesn't have too much unnecessary harmful crap in it. It's worth pointing out that it wasn't a ban on fatty foods-- I believe you could have replaced the trans-fats with bacon grease, and then everything would then be legal.

The "soda-ban" was similar, except that I think New Yorkers found the ban to be a bit silly. I'm not going on a scientific survey, but anecdotally, the people I've heard from largely don't care. People don't seem to really oppose the "ban" or feel like it impinges on them, but it's more been a question of, "Is this necessary?"

The horses are more controversial, but again I don't see why people outside of New York see this as a sign of governmental overreach. Some people think that the horses are being mistreated. There are animal cruelty laws everywhere. Then there's also the question of whether horses should be on the road. They shit everywhere and sometimes they mess up traffic. I'm sure if there were constantly horses on the streets of your home town, you'd occasionally get people questioning whether it was a good idea.

So I just don't really get why you're upset. It doesn't sound like you live in NYC. If not, these rules don't apply to you. There's some controversy within NYC, but I think most of the residents (most of the ones I've met) have some understanding that, with such a large and diverse city, you need some regulation. With all the restaurants, you need a health code-- complain if you want about the implementation, but I'm glad they shut down restaurants with unsanitary conditions. With all the traffic that passes through the streets, you need traffic laws-- argue if you'd like about whether it's good to have horses on the road, but there should be laws about that kind of thing. Even a libertarian with half a brain should understand that a city this large can't operate without some laws. And if you don't live here, I'm not sure why you would care.

Comment: Re:Stupid? (Score 1) 204

I live in NYC, and I'm a bit indifferent. I don't know about the horses in depth, but I'd tend to say that if the horses are treated badly, then make laws/regulations on how the horses should be treated. If it's a problem to have them on the street, then don't allow them on the street. I don't see think that having horses pull carriages is cruel in itself, but I also don't see the need to jump through hoops to keep the carriages around if they're presenting real problems. They're slightly charming, but smell like horse shit.

Comment: Re:Context (Score 1) 350

by nine-times (#46808537) Attached to: Google: Better To Be a 'B' CS Grad Than an 'A+' English Grad

Yeah, I *hope* my interpretation is correct and he's saying, "If you're into CS, then don't change to another major because you think it'll be easier and you think getting good grades will set you up better for the future. A more challenging course load with mediocre grades is more impressive in the real world than getting great grades while studying something you're less interested in, but that you think is easier." I would certainly agree with that advice. Your grades might possibly come up on your first interviews fresh out of college, but they very well might not. Over the span of your career, your college transcripts quickly become irrelevant.

If you're a CS major taking "Advanced Basket Weaving" in college because you're interested in that and you like that kind of thing, then good for you. Go do that. It may even be interesting and difficult, and someone might be impressed that you have diverse skills and interests. If you're taking it for an easy A+, then you're probably making a bad decision, because nobody will be impressed that you did well while taking the easy road.

Comment: Context (Score 5, Insightful) 350

by nine-times (#46804645) Attached to: Google: Better To Be a 'B' CS Grad Than an 'A+' English Grad

Note the context:

I was on campus speaking to a student who was a computer science and math double major, who was thinking of shifting to an economics major because the computer science courses were too difficult. I told that student they are much better off being a B student in computer science than an A+ student in English because it signals a rigor in your thinking and a more challenging course load.

I think it's important not to drop out the first part of that sentence. The message here is not really about the superiority of CS over English (at least I hope it wasn't), but the idea that "If you're worried about your post-graduate future, worry less about grades and more about what you're studying." There may be very rigorous, interesting, challenging English programs out there. From my experience talking to some CS majors, it seems that not all CS programs are very good. Making a strict comparison between different subjects isn't easy.

Comment: Re:What is Yahoo doing? (Score 1) 150

by nine-times (#46789343) Attached to: Investors Value Yahoo's Core Business At Less Than $0

I think Hotmail is now, which is... I hesitate to say it's good, but it's not really bad. It integrates with Skype, Onedrive, and Office Online. It looks nice. It works fine. It has social media integration, and it performs the task of routing and storing email. If you have an account, you can use it to sync your settings in Windows 8 to other Win8 computers.

I'd use it sooner than Yahoo Mail, but I don't use it. I think I mostly don't use it because I don't trust Microsoft.

Comment: Re:It could happen (Score 1) 336

by nine-times (#46789119) Attached to: Detroit: America's Next Tech Boomtown

All the state economic development agencies engage in this kind of poaching. The only problem is that the South is better at it because they don't fund schools and local governments to the same extent.

Of course, it's worth noting that low tax rates aren't the only consideration. If you have crappy schools and a low standard of living, then you might have a harder time drawing good employees. If you have crappy infrastructure, then you might have a harder time conducting your business. If your business requires an affluent population and other businesses to deal with, then a sparse population with little economic development doesn't make for a good location. Cuts to the local government are often not a good thing for businesses, even if it means lower taxes for the businesses. There are reasons why lots of businesses still locate themselves in big cities with high taxes and lots of regulation.

Comment: What is Yahoo doing? (Score 2) 150

by nine-times (#46787443) Attached to: Investors Value Yahoo's Core Business At Less Than $0
I don't know about the companies in China and Japan, and I don't know about stocks, but the general idea that Yahoo isn't actually worth much is unsurprising. Do people still use or Yahoo mail? Yahoo IM? I understand that, like AOL, Yahoo owns other sites that are doing well, but what's Yahoo's strategy? How are they making money in the face of Google and Gmail?

Chemist who falls in acid is absorbed in work.