Thursday, June 28, 2012

MMO Evolution

I think the next step in MMO evolution -- keeping in mind the group focus of MMOs -- is music.

Yes, music.

Not background music like you find at a mall, the dentist's office, or an elevator. Groups are important to MMOs, and to people generally. Communities are a part of who we are -- we are geared to be social and be part of a community. Robin Dunbar has some great work on this that finally made me realize, not only does communication create and reinforce community, but in a stronger sense communication is community. (See, for example, The Human Story or Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language.) But there are other mechanisms that are a part of the story -- dancing and music.

I'm not sure how this would be implemented exactly in an MMO. Making would be a part of it. Perhaps music would be a spell, like it is used very indirectly with bard classes (like in EQII). Instead of just clicking a button and activating a musical art, you would actually have to interact with the interface to play something. And, you'd have to co-ordinate with your group members. That's the important part -- co-ordinating with the other people there. Co-creation of music, for an in-game purpose but more importantly for group bonding.

So, more than DDR or GarageBand. And, the 1st International Workshop on Musical Metacreation (MUME 2012) will be held October 9, 2012, in conjunction with the Eighth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE'12). Not exactly what I am talking about, but, close enough to mention here.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Microsoft's Approach?

From a current NYTimes article by Nick Wingfield about Microsoft:

The [Microsoft] executives were stunned by how deeply Apple was willing to reach into the global supply chain to secure innovative materials for the iPad...
I read that as, "Microsoft executives don't give a damn about quality or innovation." However, neither quality nor innovation have ever been Microsoft hallmarks. Zune?

And, later in the article:
In a nod to Apple’s work with aluminum, Microsoft began to closely study materials that could be used to create a distinctive case for a tablet. Members of the Windows team gravitated toward magnesium...
Except of course, Steve Jobs knew about magnesium. I owned a Jobsian computer made of magnesium for some time: a NeXT cube.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Incredible! "Deer Antler"

I don't even know what to say. Humor? Museum? Learning to read? Awesome. From the National Museum of Ireland.

DVD Region Codes

Granted, the DVD industry has made itself somewhat irrelevant moving into the future given these ridiculous restriction schemes, what with improved digital streaming (and DVDs and BluRays with fifteen minutes of unskippable cruft at the front end - #designfail). But, I would have impulse-bought a copy of The Secret of Kells at Trinity College except it's region code 2, so I can't easily play it here. That's a lost sale, and that's no good for business.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Diablo 3 as MMO

The game Diablo 3 is an odd product. In many respects, it is a single player game, yet it requires a constant Internet connection (which led to total disaster at launch), has an auction house which includes all players (I think, lots of players at least), and has some sort of in-game general chat. (It's not clear to me if this is all players, or if there are servers like in an MMO but they aren't highlighting the servers.)

It's not an MMO, in terms of the massively, since the maximum group size is 4. Yet, everything else about it is like an MMO, given the chat, the auction, and the focus on the end-game and leveling up. Basically, it's like an always-instanced MMO, with a maximum group size of 4.

Perhaps it's a feeder for WoW, as if they need more players.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mixed Shapes/Colors in R's ggplot

R is easier to learn than Dwarf Fortress, and just as awesome, although it is for statistical analysis and visualization, not beer-swilling dwarf sim fans. But I had a little problem when trying to get both different shapes and colors, at the same time, in a scatterplot in ggplot.

(Ok I went back to edit this and Google destroyed it, sometimes blogger is ok with greater- and less-than, other times, it will destroy the entire post.) But, what was going on? I knew you could do both the color and the shape simultaneously, as there is an example of both shape and color being user-set in the ggplot2 book by ggplot's creator, Hadley Wickham, but there was no code sample (page 112, figure 6.14).

Turns out you have to "activate" the attributes you want to set manually!

I had a hard time finding and understanding the extensive and somewhat diverse help sources, so thought I'd put this up.

Here is the final working code -- I had to go back into my files to get it. Note I'll use the equals sign here (so the post doesn't blow up again).

my_graph = ggplot(my_csv_data) + 
    geom_point(aes(my_x_value, my_y_value, color = Desc, shape = Desc)) +
    scale_colour_manual(name = "Legend Name", values = c("This" = "black", "That" = "red", "Also" = "grey33")) +
    scale_shape_manual(name = "Legend Name", values = c(1, 2, 5)) 

The comment I have after that code:
You need BOTH color = and shape = in the aes call or else the later scale calls won't work for whichever you don't have!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Digital Cities

May was very busy, what with ICA in Phoenix (and the Comic Con! -- we saw a ton of the ST:TNG cast, the guy from Eureka, Ed Asner, Lou Ferrigno, and spoke to Gil Gerard about media effects I kid you not, and saw other stuff), and next it's off to Dublin for ICWSM. I was poking around for some amusing digital cities images for my presentation, and since I live in Brooklyn thought I'd use GTA:IV as an example of a fictional digital city, and I found this image with the sign from my local drugstore! I inquired about the sign, the pharmacist said there used to be more of them back in the day, so it's possible the in-game one is based on another one somewhere in the city.

Look at that sign!

Look at that sign!
Gil Gerard and Cliff Lampe at Phoenix Comic Con, 2012, taken by me.