Category Archives: Uncategorized

Film review: IceMan (1984)

IceMan is a film you’ve probably never heard of, but should probably watch.  A group of arctic scientists find a frozen 40,000-year old Neanderthal man who comes back to life.

It’s a slow film, without much dialogue or exposition, at least compared to modern films.  But it’s thoughtfully made and touching, asking the viewer to be patient with the story and characters and to think about what makes us human.

Trailer 

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Switch Mario Kart has a cluttered minimap

I played a Switch for the first time today.  Mario Kart.  The on-screen minimap is cluttered and doesn’t need to be.   I hope there’s an option to change it.

I played a two-player VS AI using the Switch as the screen.   We had a three-player game, against AI.   Both were league races on a variety of tracks.

In both modes the minimap was in the centre of the screen, so everyone could see it.

Problem 1 –

Because it was shared, it didn’t rotate according to my position.  It’s easier to follow a map it turns and orients itself in the direction you’re travelling.   This shared map was confusing because I was constantly having to re-orient it in my head.
Not the game’s fault. I can’t think of an easy solution to having a map that’s supposed to rotate to show four players’ positions.  But the fact it didn’t move was compounded by…

Problem 2 –

Each player had a large icon on the map, so you could see people’s position.   But as players bunched up, which was all the time, it was hard to pick out your position from the group.

In a game that’s split across AI/humans, I don’t care about AI positions on the map.   It doesn’t matter much if I beat the AI, but it matters if I beat my friends.   I hope the game has an option to toggle whether I want to see everyone, nobody, AI or humans, then other players or friends.

Pushing that idea farther, there’s an argument that in racing games in general we don’t need to see players’ positions on the minimap.

Firstly, the map becomes less useful the longer you play.  You get used to tracks and stop relying on the map for information about turns and straights.

Second, if end up behind someone am I not going to overtake them?   What does the map add to my decision making in this situation?  (See above for decisions on when to overtake.)

Maybe it would be useful if they player on the map had a weapon and it was shown on the map, so I could know what to expect.  Or if I had a limited turbo boost and wanted a better idea of when to pop it.  (But again see two paragraphs up.)

But that’s not most racing games.   So exactly what information do we need to see on a minimap?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actors should be hypnotised to believe what’s happening is real.

I’m watching the latest Independence Day films. One of the Hemsworth brothers is flying a spaceship through falling debris and chunks of rock. He’s shouting, because it’s exciting and dangerous.

He’s doing a fine job of screaming and shouting, but there’s no tension to the scene because I’ve seen it all before. Better graphics don’t make it more immersive.

I need to rely on the actors, but they can’t out-act over-familiarity and desensitisation. But if they were hypnotised?

COuld you elicit a more realistic performance than terror?

Grand Theft Auto’s wanted system & Ghost Recon Wildlands

I’ve been playing a lot of Ghost Recon : Wildlands recently.  It’s a fantastic co-op game – because of Grand Theft Auto.

Thinking about the most exciting times in the game, they all involved Unidad.   Unidad is the in-game police force. It fights both enemy NPCs and human players.

The more you fight them, the more of them you fight and their armoury changes.  They come with miniguns and helicopters.  Soon you’re faced with overwhelming odds.

It’s the wanted/star system from GTA.

But let’s think about what a leap in logic (and technology) it must have been to implement GTA’s wanted system in the first place:

It affects a small set of NPCs

Gives them tools no other NPC has

Affects NPC AI

Introduces dynamic difficulty based on player behaviour

The wanted system breaks the rules of the main game.  Can you imagine trying to pitch that in a planning meeting?

Everyone I play with is wary of Unidad.  Everyone I play with is worried they’ll get involved and excited when they do.

Because the thing that makes Wildlands – and I think makes any co-op game – is forcing players to deal with overwhelming odds.   Because those are the shared moments when co-op play is most important and most difficult.

Whoever invented the wanted system, I salute you.

 

BBC story on blind cheerleader

BBC story on blind cheerleader competing with the GB paralympic team.

Disabled sports are thought-provoking because the rules always seem to take mechanics into account.  How do you adapt a sport so disabled people can take part and how do you rate their ability against other disabled athletes?  (And why does that cheerleader’s accent swap between English and American?)

Wheelchair rugby is particularly interesting. Player ability is rated on a point scale: the less disabled a player, the higher their point rating.   A team can only have players worth eight points total.

There are seven classes ranging from 0.5 to 3.5 with functional characteristics identified for each athlete class. In general, the 0.5 class includes those athletes with the most disability and the 3.5 class includes those athletes with the least disability or “minimal” disability eligible for the sport of wheelchair rugby.

In international wheelchair rugby the total number of points allowed on court at any time is 8.0. That is, the total points of all four athletes actually playing cannot exceed 8.0 points. A team may play with a lineup that totals less than 8.0 points, but not more. 

My bold.

 Must add a wrinkle to team selection; more players with less mobility or fewer with more?

I believe a similar points system is used in Warhammer 40K.

http://www.iwrf.com/?page=classification

 

 

 

Very easy pasta sauce recipe

Butter in pan.

Garlic cloves.  Remove when browned.

Half an onion.  Not chopped.

Can of plum tomatoes.  Salt.

Cook for 45 minutes on a medium heat.  Reduce.  Stir now and then.  Remove onion (eat separately).

Adjust ingredient amounts to taste, apart from the onion.

Based on a Marcella Hazan recipe.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19552.Essentials_of_Classic_Italian_Cooking

 

Put two unrelated movies into the same universe.  How will you do it?

You have to take two separate films and put them in the same universe.  You don’t have to use lead characters.  How would you do it?

Example:

Godzilla attacks New York, but the Ghost Busters and the Statue of Liberty are there to save the day.  (Or Cloverfield attacks NY and ‘Zillow and Stay-Puft fight it off.)

CondorMan’s comics help inspire a young Bruce Wayne to build his gadgets.  Together they team up to fight The Joker and an army of Soviet Porschses.

The house from the Amityville Horror is where Kevin McAllister is left Home Alone.