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Comment Re:I agree w/McMillen a bit (Score 1) 75

_If_ it's a lottery where you can play many times, then yes.

But if getting that 1% chance is going to involve devoting 25 years of your life to getting good enough to qualify for one of the scarce jobs available (whether you get one of those jobs or not, being the 1% chance), then no. After all, you can only play 3 or maybe 4 times before you die.

Comment Re:I agree w/McMillen a bit (Score 4, Interesting) 75

The problem is that if you start looking at things that way, every game fits into the same category. Super Meat Boy is _all_ about skinner-box conditioning of reflexes and observation. Yes, it's tremendously satisfying when you finish a new level by pulling off moves you'd never have though possible, but what you're experiencing there is the result of operant conditioning on muscle memory.

Thing is, skinner boxes provide something that we need. Here's a quite from David Wong of Cracked that sums it up:

"As shocking as this sounds, a whole lot of the "guy who failed all of his classes because he was playing WoW all the time" horror stories are really just about a dude who simply didn't like his classes very much. This was never some dystopian mind control scheme by Blizzard. The games just filled a void. Why do so many of us have that void? Because according to everything expert Malcolm Gladwell, to be satisfied with your job you need three things, and I bet most of you don't even have two of them: Autonomy (that is, you have some say in what you do day to day); complexity (so it's not mind-numbing repetition);and connection Between Effort and Reward (i.e. you actually see the awesome results of your hard work).

Most people, particularly in the young gamer demographics, don't have this in their jobs or in any aspect of their everyday lives. But the most addictive video games are specifically geared to give us all three... or at least the illusion of all three.
The terrible truth is that a whole lot of us begged for a Skinner Box we could crawl into, because the real world's system of rewards is so much more slow and cruel than we expected it to be."

Part of the problem is that economics has reached the point where going for top jobs actually involves irrational behaviour. Tim Harford wrote in The Undercover Economist that the incredibly high wages in top jobs are not just to reward the people in the jobs, but to incentivize others into working to try and get them. The idea is that if I offer you $100 for a job or $200 if you work hard, you'll probably work hard, because the reward is right there. If I offer you $100 for a job or, if you work hard, a 1% chance of getting $200 , you won't work hard. But if I offer you $100 for a job or, if you work hard, a 1% chance of getting $1bn, your brain will tell you to work hard because the reward is so high that any slender chance is a good thing. Problem is, 99% of the time, you don't get the reward no matter how big it is, so that decision making process turns out to be an irrational cognitive bias.

And that process has trickled down over time and become embedded in our collective psyche. Why were computer games seen as so dorky in the 80's? Because it was really easy to believe that there was a better alternative. Now, society has started to realize that it is being sold a pup. Yes, I could spend that time learning guitar, or learning to draw, or learning another language. But I know that the vast majority of musicians, artists, and translators are unemployed or sporadically employed or even working for free. Furthermore, most people in those fields will tell you that if you don't enjoy just the process of playing guitar (or whatever), there's no way you'll do it often enough to get really good. So why shouldn't I just do what I enjoy instead?

Don't look at the games. Look at the society.

Comment Re:You wouldn't have to become a villian... (Score 1) 419

That's the theory. But the problem is, it doesn't take a great deal of power to end up with you de facto ruling the world, no matter how heroic you try to be.

I mean, here's an example. Take the ability to be immune to fatigue and not need to eat or sleep - something that many people put in as a sort of afterthought on superhero characters because they don't like the idea of Powerman having to head home for a quick kip in the middle of a storyline.

Yet just having that ability makes you.. world-defining. If you jump on a treadmill, you're a limitless source of 100% free, 100% clean energy. Whichever organization or country you decide to give that to will have such an economic advantage that there will be very little for anyone else to do but either fight over you or give up.

Does that make you a villain? Maybe. Certainly, you'd impact freedoms across the world, and could probably very easily rule the world if you wanted to just by choosing who you provided your services to. And there's a fair argument that if the only thing stopping you ruling the world is your own decision not to, then you already do rule the world..

Comment Re:No, they don't make a good point. (Score 4, Insightful) 218

Well, I've taken a look at the site.

What it APPEARS has happened here is that NAMCO have _assumed_, based on the appearance of the site, that what's running on the site is actually a Java emulator running the Pac-Man ROM. I say that because a) the loading sequence that Scratch projects show when invoked via the web looks just like the startup for such a Java emulator, and b) there are still lots of pac-man games on the Scratch site that haven't been affected.

Alternatively, it could be the case that an evil-minded student rival reported the page to NAMCO. See, letting people infringe on your copyright just by turning a blind eye is ok; but if there's an actual paper trail proving that you _knew_ about the copyright infringement, you HAVE to take some legal action to enforce it - otherwise, your copyright can be overturned.

There is definitely something deeper here than what has been reported, and it may be worth reserving judgment until we know what it is.

Comment The elephant in the room.. (Score 1) 571

Unfortunately, the issue that's causing creativity to drop isn't necessarily to do with standardization or how children are treated. It's something that's much, much, harder for us to deal with in society.

Namely, mass media. The global village.

The problem is that, for example, if you want to try and be a famous musician nowadays your only real option is to devote as much time as you can to it (otherwise you certainly won't be good enough) and even then you still have a 90% chance of failure, simply because famous musicians consume so many resources in terms of marketing, production etc that the world just can't support that many.

Thus, both schools and parents are having to quietly discourage pupils from taking this path, because it leads to almost certain failure and then to being disadvantaged in real life.


Submission + - Apple crushes Runtime Revolution on iPhone (

hyphz writes: The first casualty of Apple's iPhone SDK 4.0: Runtime Revolution Mobile, a RAD tool, has been banned from creating App Store applications. According to the blog, even when Rev offered to implement a full native code compiler and expose the native SDK, Apple still refused. Especially ironic given that RunRev is based on Apple's own HyperCard.

Comment Re:They want devs to choose (Score 2, Informative) 711

You couldn't seriously develop for the iPhone without a Mac. Assuming that you wanted to test the final output of your marvelous multi-platform compiler to make sure that it, y'know, actually worked on the platform you were targeting, you would need a Mac. As far as I know there's still no way to run iPhone Simulator, switch an iPhone to Development Mode, or create an AdHoc profile without one.

Comment Re:They want devs to choose (Score 1) 711

The problem with this is that most of the multi platform mobile development kits were based around the iPhone API, because of the percieved goldrush for developers.

Macs may lose out on cross platform apps pn the desktop, but on mobile Android would be the loser. The Activity structure means that cross platform apps would have trouble integrating, and since Android runs on a JVM it is even less tolerant of further compatibility layers on top of that.

Also, it doesn't make devs choose. Someone will be working on an objective-C to Android-Java cross compiler as we speak

Comment Re:Unity3D not threatened. (Score 3, Informative) 789

No - that's where the doubt is; the Apple license refers to the language in which the program was "originally written". The most common interpretation of that which people are understanding is that it means "what the programmer typed". No matter what code generation process Unity used, there is no way of getting around the fact that the programmer typed C#/UnityScript/Boo, not C/C++/ObjectiveC.

Comment Re:Unity3D not threatened. (Score 2, Insightful) 789

This sort of misses the point - scripted game engines are critical to all game development these days.

Imagine Microsoft banning any companies releasing Unreal Engine games on 360, because part of the engine is acting as an UnrealScript interpreter, and the same game could be "ported" to PS3 easily. It would be ridiculous. Trying to ban Unity IPhone is ridiculous, especially when - at least in Unity 2.5 - the iPhone version is specifically optimised for the iPhone.

Comment Re:So wait Secondlife is a failure? So was Starcra (Score 1) 73

The problem with UGC is that there's a strict limit to how much work it's worth investing in it, because there's a such a high probability that your work will be lost in the mix.

Game makers know that they can hide this problem very easily, because they can advertise the best and most successful UGC. Nobody is going to complain about the UGC that was good but that no-one noticed because.. well, because no-one noticed it.

On the other hand, they can design around it. I'm thinking of Guitar Hero having an Achievement for uploading a track (aaarggh! That instantly guaranteed that the board is overrun with rubbish), or the first version of LBP where the only sorting of levels was by popularity. I remember seeing an actual post where someone said, "what's the point of designing a level when, even if you advertise it on boards, it'll get maybe 200 plays and never make the top page no matter what?" Second Life, rather cynically, is designed to make money from UGC whether it's noticed or not, and to make even more money from people advertising it.

Do I have a solution? Divide UGC-using users into smaller "groups" which can communicate within each other. The most popular levels within these groups are then promoted up a rung to greater visibility, and so on until the very top level where they're visible to all - but to download those top-rank levels, you have to pay with credits that you get from viewing levels within your own local group. The idea is to keep the small supportive communities, which often drive creation in these games when they're new, going. When this works, it works well: for example, in Second Life I've heard from many of the newer creators who've done well that they basically got into a group which supported and noticed what they were doing, which is great, but since it's not organised it's entirely a "right place at the right time" thing.

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