• 3 Posts
Joined 1Y ago
Cake day: Jan 28, 2022


This is an older article that I’ve seen elsewhere before, but it’s a good one and I can’t image the problem has gotten better in the intervening time.

I'm honestly not sure how to summarize this video. It's a very interesting look at the way that the impulse to "optimize" gameplay affects the culture surrounding games, especially MMOs and other multiplayer games. It particularly looks at World of Warcraft and the social norms that have developed around and within the game. It's a long watch but I found it really interesting, and I have zero connection to WoW and have never played it.

Yeah, it’s been the one feature that I’m really missing badly. Edge was genuinely a very good UX experience as far as a daily driver browser goes, and if it weren’t for the persistent feeling that I ought to be supporting FF just so there’s a little diversity in the browser space I’d probably still be using it.

I switched back to Firefox from Edge recently (I know, dont @ me) and the only thing I’m really missing at all is the way that tab grouping works in Edge. You can just drag a tab over another tab and it will automatically create a new group for them, then you can collapse groups in the title bar if you’re not using them. That plus Edge’s tab sleeping made for some easy and intuitive tab management that I haven’t been able to recreate in Firefox yet. I know there are some tab grouping extensions but none of them let you drag/drop in the title bar, and a lot of the better ones are very focused on tree syle vertical tabs, which I don’t hate but don’t really use much. I prefer tabs being in the title bar, because that space is going to be there anyway so I might as well fill it up with something useful.

Interesting twitter thread from PopeHat about what this might indicate.

It could be just my personal preference of course

I think that’s probably the case here. I really enjoy environmental storytelling, and piecing together a story from bits of lore and clues scattered around a game world. It’s just a different way of telling a story than a more guided or linear narrative. It’s not objectively better or worse than more traditional story forms. I do think that it is a type of narrative that is easier to tell in a video game than it would be in another format, which is why it feels like such a novel experience to me. I had a very different experience of Breath of the Wild from you, incidentally. Which I think just goes to show how strongly subjective these things are. I found BotW to be incredibly engrossing, and I’ve beat it at least three times, the last of which I cleared all shrines. I mostly didn’t approach the game as a checklist of things that needed to be done, though, or as something that needed to be progressed through in order to get to a particular point. It’s not really structured that way. If you want, as soon as you get off the starting plateau you can just go fight Ganon. There’s literally nothing stopping you other than a lack of health and good gear, and from watching speedruns it doesn’t actually take that long to get pretty passable gear anyway. I constantly found myself traversing huge portions of the map in that game just out of curiosity to see what was over the next hill, or around this mountain, and I felt that the game almost always rewarded that curiousity.

I don’t think that Open World mechanics are at odds with good story-telling, I just think that they are better suited to a different type of storytelling than the traditional linear video game story.

I think the problem is more that a lot of studios want to shoehorn a traditional linear narrative into an open world and usually what that ends up meaning is one of two things. Either you have certain places that the game tells you to go to get more story, and the rest of the world is really just sidequest land (looking at you, Ubisoft), or you wind up having a lot of exposition thrown at you while you’re moving from point A to point B (Rockstar…).

I think good story-telling in an open world is possible, but to effectively use the open world it needs to be different. Environmental storytelling is a lot more important in these types of games. I think Breath of the Wild did a pretty good job of this, although it wasn’t perfect. But I think the environment was put together in a way that you could really start to understand the backstory of the world without somebody lore dumping at you. The problem with BotW is that they didn’t trust the player to pick up on the story, so they still included the lore dump. I think Elden Ring also has some really good open world storytelling. It’s opaque but very evocative. You’re given a few details about the past, but the real heavy lifting is done through the environment and the items you find throughout the world.

I was wondering the same thing. There are a fair number of plants like this in the area that supply parts to Hyundai and I suspect there are similar things happening at most. I also get the impression that our AG is looking the other way as hard as he can on this. Hyundai brings a lot of jobs and money to the state and they’ve got a lot of influence here.

I don’t completely disagree, but one of the problems with smart glasses continues to be creating a clear display that is unobtrusive, clear, and doesn’t obstruct your view. What’s interesting about this smart contact is that the display is so small and so close to your eye that you basically can’t see the screen itself, but the display is supposedly very crisp. Now whether that’s true in practice I don’t know. And there are a ton of other technical hurdles to overcome. I suspect battery life is probably a big issue, but also the FoV is apparently somewhat of a problem, which they are trying to overcome using eyetracking and software. It’s at least really interesting.

Hands-on: Mojo Vision’s Smart Contact Lens is Further Along Than You Might Think
Mojo Lens seems to have created a "smart contact lens" with a pretty dense display along with a fair number of other features including a wireless radio, accelerometer, gyro, and magnetometer (for eye tracking). It all seems to fit into an incredibly small package which is apparently thicker than normal contact lenses, but still wearable as demonstrated by their CEO. It seems like a pretty exciting piece of tech. I have suspicions that the battery life is probably the most limiting factor but I'm going to be following this with interest.

I had a lot of fun with this, and it generated a lot of discussion on a Discord channel that I’m on with some friends. There was a pretty interesting split in the “kill count” between folks who were more utilitarian in their decision making (chose to directly intervene, resulting in fewer deaths) and a couple of people who had higher “kill counts” that were a result of more deontological ethical frameworks (i.e. killing is wrong, and flipping the lever and intervening is killing someone even when the end result is fewer deaths).

It led to some really fun discussions about problems of knowledge in utilitarian ethics. If you have perfect knowledge of a situation, then it’s not that difficult to make an ethical decision. I know that 1 person will die if I flip the switch, but I know that 5 will die if I don’t. However, we rarely have perfect knowledge of the effects of a decision in real life, so consequentialist decision making can be a lot more fraught in the real world, because we may understand the situation wrongly and our decision could result in a bad outcome. That’s why I appreciated the prompts where the results were obscured in some way, such as the one where you have left your glasses at home and so you’re not sure if there really are 5 people on one track and 1 on the other, and the one where the two outcomes are expressed as probabilities. It led me to realize that in real life I tend to operate with a “two-level consequentialist” ethic. I try to base my decisions on their outcomes, but in times or situations where that calculus isn’t possible, I tend to fall back into a sort-of “rule consequentialism”.

I do think that one thing this presentation of the trolley problem does poorly is that it doesn’t emphasize that your choices are between inaction and intervention, i.e. that the outcome of the straight track is the result that would happen if you weren’t present, or if you don’t act, and the outcome of the side track is the result of direct action. This is implied in the whole setup of the Trolley Problem, so somebody who is already familiar with the thought experiment will understand that, but somebody who is only familiar with the more meme-ified version might not understand that the first decision is between whether it is wrong to take direct action to kill someone in order to prevent more deaths. The way that folks arguing against utilitarianism like to frame it is to question whether it would be ethical to kill one healthy person and harvest their organs to save 5 others.

Anyway, all this to say that I really enjoyed this little site for prompting a lot of fun discussion in my friend group.

In all seriousness, this is simultaneously cool and absolutely distressing in a very dystopian way.

I’m not sure I can trust this currency, where’s the complicated distributed consensus mechanism? I don’t have to light a forest on fire to interact with it! The value isn’t even fluctuating wildly! 0/5 stars /s

As I’m re-reading this, it occurs to me that point 2 is pretty close to your own point. I think the things are related, a lack of diversity in gaming communities made gatekeeping worse and gatekeeping made lack of diversity worse.

I think this is probably an important part of it, but I’ve been thinking about this recently and I think there are some other factors as well. This isn’t particularly well researched, although I’ve read some interested articles about the alt-right pipelines and that sort of this, this is just my own musings especially about how the right tends to weaponize nostalgia.

  1. Nostalgia - Gamer communities have a strong sense of Nostalgia, looking back at some previous golden age of games as the golden age that they wish they could go back to. Like other backward looking groups, I think this leaves them vulnerable to right-wing propaganda, e.g. “Gaming was so much better before all of this woke nonsense”. It’s the start of a radicalization pipeline. When you start to think that minorities or diversity is the reason the thing you have built your identity around is getting worse, it’s a natural pipeline to right wing ideology.

  2. Gatekeeping - Gamer communities have always been very prone to gatekeeping. In my mind it’s not hard to connect the dots from, “you’re not a gamer if you didn’t love FF7 as a kid” to “girls can’t be gamers” to more explicit racial/gender hate and homophobia, because the people who gaming catered to in those “golden ages” were overwhelmingly white middle-class boys so the unconscious mental image of the in group “Gamers” is white and male.

I think you see these elements in play in Gamergate, which used the already existing tendency toward misogyny in gaming communities, as well as a strong sense of nostalgia, to radicalize a lot of gamers into alt-right ideologies with a paper thin veneer of defending “ethics” but actually just attacking women and minorities in gaming spaces.

Not sure how I feel about this. Seems like lots of nostalgia goggles and circlejerking about how things were so much better back in some golden age, but as somebody who lived through the good old days, there was a LOT of corporate shovelware in pretty much every era of gaming, it’s just that nobody remembers any of that crap any more.

Honestly, it strikes me as “Gamers” mad that AAA gaming isn’t laser focused on catering to their specific demographic. Sure, there are bad trends in gaming, but there have always been bad, exploitative trends in gaming. Gamers that flip out about microtransactions ruining gaming always seem to forget that the majority of the industry for decades was focused on making games that could extract quarters from kids as efficiently as possible.

But for all the crying and raging, the last decade of video games has produced some incredible games, both AAA/AA and indie. We’re IN the golden age right now, and some people are so focused on the past that they can’t see it.

It reminds me of the way people talk about Classic Rock. People act like there was only great music in the past, but if you look back at the charts there was tons of disposable, forgettable junk that has rightfully been forgotten. I think the same thing is happening with gaming. Sure, there were some real masterpieces. But I know from experience there was a ton of barely playable garbage, too.

That game looks cool, but the thrown spear isn’t really what I was thinking about. I feel like games do a slightly better job representing that.

It’s the spear as a main battle weapon that I think doesn’t get represented well in popular culture. For example, Vikings in games usually are depicted with axes, but spear and shield were probably more common.

The same goes for really any medieval or faux-medieval setting. The vast majority of fighters would have had some variation on the pointy stick as their main weapon, because they were so deadly effective.

There’s also a commonly repeated argument that spears might be the main weapon in massed battle, but in small groups or one on one combat it would be ineffective, but I’ve seen plenty of HEMA matches and recreations that show that spear users can beat sword users, often with very little experience with the weapon.

I always want it to be the spear, but I find that most games don’t really get spears right or just generally make them a worse choice than some type of sword. Spears or something in the spear family were the weapon of choice for the vast majority of human history. This is true both in contexts where fighting would have been done in tight formation and in times/places where it was not. It was more common than the sword, and in many places and times would have been considered a fighter’s main weapon, with a sword acting as a kind of sidearm. In games, however, spears are almost always less effective than swords, while reach advantage is usually very minor or negated altogether.

This style of video essay is a mixed bag for me. There are some content creators that I can watch hours long videos from and it doesn’t feel like a huge time investment (Hbomberguy, Folding Ideas), and then there are others where even 45 minutes feels like way too long. I think a lot it boils down to good scripting and editing. Folding Ideas and Hbomb are both pretty carefully scripting their content and then pretty heavily editing it - it makes it feel like the video is going somewhere even when it’s long and there’s a lot of content. There are other creators with videos around the same length, or sometimes even shorter, that I’m never able to finish. A lot of those are more the “Sitting in front of the camera with a glass of wine and rant about pop culture for an hour” style of video “essay”, but even some of the more scripted and edited stuff I have a hard time with (Philosophy Tube, Contrapoints). I suspect it’s just a matter of taste and style but I can’t put my finger on exactly the difference.

Side note: I actually found written transcripts of several of Philosophy Tube’s videos and found them much easier to digest, so maybe in her case it’s an issue of slower delivery or editing style - not sure.