Repost of a forum Post on Logical Arguments

A person’s idea does not end at the limits of their ability to articulate it. It does not end with the validity of the examples they use, nor does it end before the points that go unmade. An idea exists independent of that. Now, if we’re set that someone is wrong, because we know they are, then fine, this is what we do — use their flaws against them and never really think about it much. But if we’re having an interesting level of discourse and are trying to grow our understanding of a topic, we need to see deeper than what is presented to us.

A child wants to buy a $1.50 can of soda. His mother says he can’t afford it. He raises a dollar and 3 quarters and says “But I have two dollars!” The mother than says “No you can’t afford it because that’s wrong”. Just about anyone would get past the child’s statement and make their own deductions — that the child has $1.75 and thus has enough for the soda, but in a sense we are all, at some points, guilty of this — using an incorrect example or deduction as a reason to entirely falsify an argument.

Now, there is value to being logically right. It sends the other guy back to the drawing board to hopefully come back with better fleshed out ideas. But we, like our opponent, are capable of making those same logical deductions. This is why people complain about nitpicking — it’s a situations where technically something is wrong ( a weak example ) but people should be able to INFER the intent. Not so simple with complex system interactions, but we cannot be married to our positions so much that we neglect the ideas that are in front of us. The more often we can choke down our pride about being “right”, the more often we have a chance to learn something.

Too Much Talking Episode 21: The “Heavy Flow” Episode

Featuring: Kayin, April, Patito, Eric, Ben(briefly)

Too Much Talking #21 “Heavy Flow” 03/22/11

Good show this week! Replayability takes up a good chunk of the time, as well as the concept of “hobby games” and multiplaye games. We also talk about Facade and Marvel vs Capcom 3 a bit before talking about Flow and how the younger generation is getting into older games via emulation.

I also propose a biweekly cast, though supplemental episodes would still pop up in between at our whim. As of right now there won’t be a show recorded next monday, but if you guys really want it, we’ll make it happen. We’ll still be hanging out, but we figure having the extra time will help recharge our batteries and make for livelier shows.

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Gaming Globes

I always had a curiosity with maps and map making. One thing that came to my awareness is that your typical RPG map makes little sense when you consider a round world. Beyond the fact that they map behaves like toruses (you go go down the bottom and appear uptop and traveling in a diagonal straight line odes not return you to the starting location. I mean the land masses just don’t seem quite natural for a globe. I played around with this idea in Blender but the gifs I made of the planets just did not do the idea justice. So I made it in unity instead.

Click the above image to check out Game Globes, featuring Final Fantasy 1, 2, 4, 5 , 6 (twice), and Dragon Quest 3, Seiken Densetsu 2-3 and Terranigma.

Load time is pretty huge (25 megs) but it’s pretty cool if you’re interested. The maps were often stretched to try and make them less troubling, scale wise, but the large oceans remain. Only a tad worse than the South Pacific though, to be honest. Also if you’re interesting in a local executable, here’s one for windows. Be warned, it’s 40 megs.

Art: Slash Character Sheet

This one was a bit of a struggle! No history post either, though maybe I’ll do that tomorrow.

Not entirely satisfied with this. I dig a lot of parts of Slash but obviously I don’t draw a lot of guys and it shows. The layout also isn’t as nice as the Naomi one, but I had less material to work with for filling the layout. Still, it’s pretty cool and I had fun messing with Slash’s muscles. Not entirely satisfied with them, but it’s the first in a loooong time I’ve taken that sort of a stab at male anatomy.

I need to go to bed, so no added history this time around. Maybe I’ll dwell on it as I sleep and add it later.

Personal School Records: Now available for the internet!

I recently just aired a ton of excerpts from a psychological evaluation I had in highchool over twitter. I want to organize it and put the contents up here, but first I think I’d like to give you some context first.

I was a special education student. I rode on the honest to god Short Bus. I went in during kindergarten and got out at graduation. I rode the entire length of the New York state special education system. That system (known as BOCES) had me mostly separated into separate schools, though I often went to class with “normal” kids during middle school and highschool. The quality of education still shows. While I think I come off as intelligent and learned, you’ve probably all noticed embarrassingly simple grammatical and spelling related errors on this page. Lack of teaching in those areas let me develop some awful habits like not realizing the difference between “you’re” and “your” until I was into college.

So why was In in BOCES? I misbehaved in Kindergarten. I didn’t listen in class and apparently poored cereal on one kid’s head. At this point, medication was the big rage and my parents were told I had ADD. They chose special education over medication, a choice I wholly agree with. So even though I mellowed out, I was still just naturally a weirdo and that, combined with how long I was in the system made it so it was never quite convenient to take me out of it. Even when it was discovered I had an above average intellect, I was too far behind in too many subjects due to the nature of the special education classes.

That alone though, does not explain this document. That came after an altercation that started on the drama-starter of our day, Livejournal. A psychological bully, whom was also in the BOCES program, would harass me and act innocent whenever I lashed out at him. He was a nice, clean cut, respectable boy and, well, I was me. Tall and bulky, goatee. Long hair, chains. Often dressed in baggy pants and military vests covered in band patches. I would eventually adopt a style that was more like some sort of punk-weeaboo with what looked like denim hakamas and oversized, flowing anime shirts, but whatever. I hadn’t quite transitioned from ‘scary’ to ‘dork’ yet. The bully, who’s last name was Clancy (I can’t remember his first name, but I keep thinking ‘Tom’ for obviously wrong reasons), made a post on Livejournal.

“Michael O’Reilly confided to me that he was gay”.



The ULTIMATE SLANDER… and with a brevity of word that could have been on twitter! I see this on a school computer and walk into our little private BOCES room, slam open the door and yell “YOU’RE FUCKING DEAD, CLANCY”! Not the best move to make in a school, but to make it worse, Columbine had happened a year ago and people were still on high alert for the next potential killer. So theres me, a scary looking dork who is merely replying in typical male fashion to a slight against his sexual preference. At the time though, it looked pretty bad and I was to have a psychological evaluation. The evaluation was performed in a single meeting with an immigrant psychologist from India, which created issues of language and social norms. Either way, I have in front of me the document he gave to the school after our meeting. I needed some documentation on this for applying for financial aid and decided to comb through it before mailing it out. So here are the tidbits I tweeted from it, along with a little more detail on some of them.

The Tweets

I’m reading the 11 year old psychological report on me from highschool. This is surreal. I certainly confused the hell out of the shrink. D:

Apparently I was into witchcraft and meditation? Guess I had a ‘religion of the week’ thing going on. Look how that turned out. D:

I had religious skepticism at an early age. God and Santa Claus always occupied the same area of doubt in my mind as a kid. As a teenager I decided most of it was nonsense, but could not disregard spirituality in it’s entirety. As a result, I used religious belief as a form of personal expression, treating my beliefs as a philosophical thing, as indications of how I wanted the word to be. Eventually this faded and I just, despite claiming agnosticism, became a de-facto atheist. I think wiccan stuff (which I didn’t even understand at the time) was my earliest attempts at this, before moving on to something that was purely personal.

“Most of the time he is a loner and has difficulty setting realistic goals. At times he becomes verbally aggressive.” Well, that’s spot on.

These days it’s more ‘textually aggressive’, but hey.

“His teacher gave the history that Michael creates imaginary situations to applied reality.” Needs to be a hashtag for tweeting private docs

Stupid shrink, I was rambling insanely about the ASTRAL PLANE not the ASTRO PLANE. What the fuck is an astro plane? The space shuttle?

The astral planes is what I called the heavens, mostly from setting building and roleplaying after school. I think I nabbed the idea from Shadowrun? Either way the worry was I thought this was all reality. This probably stems from stuff like me talking about meditation and the astralplanes.

“When I am with a girl I look for deep purification and sensory enhancement” … Please be short hand for something less insane I said.

“It appears that his girl is only fantasy or available on the internet” ………… :(

Ouch! Clearly he was having a problem understanding me, between my tendency to ramble and his use of english as a second language. Still, I had this big purity hang up when it comes to women. In a lot of ways I was a ‘well meaning chauvinist” until my first real girlfriend. Women were to be pure and protected and safe. I already had the character of Cassara, but she had not come into her intimidating, masculine form yet. I also had lame belief’s that sex wasn’t supposed to be ‘fun’. That it had to be ‘sacred’ or some bullshit. One of my later girlfriends I remember found this very silly and rightfully so.

As for the internet thing, I did have an internet girlfriend at the time. It was awkward and I barely remember our interactions, but she was a real person. Heck, I’m actually friends with her on facebook now. Back then the idea was still pretty damn odd though so I can’t blame him for treating it as something on par with self delusion.

“He knew his home address, telephone number and the composition of his family” Sweet, did I get a gold star for that? :D

On my parents and my behavior: “They don’t get upset. I wreck my room. My 5 year old sister annoys me” She was actually 6 :(

I didn’t have problems with neologisms, I was making a setting, gosh darnit!

The paper mentioned neologisms a lot. He treated them in the psychological sense — words I use that are meaningless to others. In truth, they were meaningless to him. They were words that had meaning to the internet community I was roleplaying with at the time (lol AOL chat). This was a pretty awkward and new idea at the time. I wasn’t even the only one in class who roleplayed online, though I think I was the least ashamed of it.

I’ve actually discarded many of the terms I used with him, but still, the language of a setting and fantasy I think is very important. As a psychologist, looking at someone who was viewed as having a pre-disposition to being “a crazy”, he took it as something psychological.

“When he was asked his hobby, he mentioned he likes to watch tv, mostly Japanese cartoons and space soap operas” … Such a weeaboo. :D

On things I hated: “The elite and pretty. They call me fake and a loser. They appear judgmental. I feel annoyed with authority.” So angry!

It’s amazing how fast this dropped in college. Only in highschool do such petty things seem to matter. Still, I was clearly a pretty grumpy teenager. A grumpy, weeaboo teenager.

“Student was developed and well nourished for his age. He was clean in habit. He had long hair and was wearing a chain made of paper clips”

I think I had a safety pin earring too. I still wear part of my highschool wallet chain (not paperclips). I like being attached to my money.

Goes with what I said above. I was a pretty wacky guy. I’ve kept chains (Never lost my wallet, never lost my keys), but the “earring” went when I almost got into a fight and I got worried about it getting yanked out. Part of this came from the fact that I knew my girlfriend at the time had done that to another girl. How terrifying.

Oh jeez, apparently when someone pissed me off I would curse under my breath in japanese. I was such a little loser! :D

Some of this is about me being delusional that students were conspiring against me. But it was true. One’s mom apologized years later for it

I’m mostly talking about Clancy here. My mother apparently worked with his mom later in life, where she apologized profusely for the torment that her son put me through, well after I was done with high school. I don’t mind that I never got personally vindicated, but I am disappointed no one ever realized that he was some sort of scum sucker. Hopefully he’s turned out well, as highschool brings the worst out of us and is not always representative of who we become.

“I don’t understand why she doesn’t like me. I am a pacifist. She despises my word.” prbly a typo for work, but “Despises my word” is badass

“He described him self as philosophical, looks like a man, interested in psychology and combined total everything” ……… What?

Sometimes I have no fucking idea what I actually said.

A few more… “Astrolplanes and the practice of witchcraft prevent him from getting depressed”

“His affect were somewhat bluned, his smiles were superficial he talked of difficulty sleeping because of too many thoughts at one time”

“I get depressed, suicidal thoughts come to me, but I meditate, I can control my self, non-visual things my spirit can move my spirit 1/4” ?

Same with these. I have no idea what “move my spirit 1/4” was supposed to be. Move my spirit… forth? I have no idea, but clearly I said some stuff he found to be pretty damn weird. I can’t blame him. I think I liked having an audience to postulate insanity at, not realizing there might be reprocussions. I was expressing my identity at the time at him and his interest made it seem like I should keep going. He was probably one of the few people who seemed to be listening to me ever — and that’s because he was, just not for the reasons I thought. He wanted to see what I would do when I was given enough rope to hang my self.

The answer, of course, was to hang my self.

There was a lot more, but it wasn’t sized well for twitter. There was stuff like my naive sexism. Stuff like the huge tome of a novel I wrote, which probably reads like incoherent fanfiction (though it was at least original). There was more on me being suicidal, a short lived, attention seeking phase. Those thoughts disappeared with my first real relationship and never came back. In fact, most of this nonsense died on the spot in college. Highschool, in my memory, feels like some sort of crazy madhouse at a circus, filled with all sorts of wacky mirrors. It seemed to have a natural effect (combined with our age at the time) to bring forth characterless of our personalities.

Either way, I feel good putting this all out there. I feel pretty well off now and happy. Theres a lot more to this story, but it doesn’t involve these pieces of paper. Maybe I’ll get into that someday, but it’d be gratuitous now. A lot of people on twitter seemed to enjoy this — likely because they could relate, I’d guess. It was probably a weird time for a lot of us nerds.

Update 8/4/2011: I received a psychological evaluation, it turns out not only that nothing is wrong with me, but I’m above average in everything. So I’m like, my brain is awesome and I’m just a bum. Sweet!

Too Much Talking Episode 19: The “Horrible Humstar” Episode

Featuring: Kayin, April, Patito, Eric, Ben

Too Much Talking #19 “Horrible Humstar” Episode 03/08/11

Tragedy. We lose a portion of the episode due to a recording failure. Next week or the week after might be a PnP episode to make up for that. But still, we talk about a lot of Setting Related stuff, the comic book character, The Sentry and the absurdity of pokemon.

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David Cage is generally full of Shit

Now, I’ll be honest, there’s really not a damned thing I like about David Cage. I’ve always gotten the impression that he’d prefer to be a Hollywood writer but can’t be, because he sucks at writing stories. He has ideas that can be powerful, but seems unable to put together a story properly or intelligibly. He can’t write kid characters and comes up with wacky nonsense like super zombies. I would frequently joke that Heavy Rain would have been better written if David Cage was fatally hit by a bus before the script was finished and what was there was handed to someone else entirely. Not that I want David Cage to have been hit by a bus — a better game isn’t worth human sacrifice — but it could quite possibly be true.

But that doesn’t matter. I’m not a professional game designer, nor some superior writer (especially not where spelling and grammar are concerned, OH BOY). Nor am I the fairest judge. I wouldn’t like these types of games even if they were great — I am too gameplay focused. I also don’t think David Cage SHOULDN’T do what he does. He gets to experiment and the people who want it can get a rather novel experience. He isn’t changing the industry, so whatever. Only I was just reading some quotes off twitter that were made by him at his GDC talk. I want to address them, because I think they are objectively bullshit.

So here we go, in no real order.

“We need to forget about video game rules — bosses, missions, game over, etc…are very old words of a very old language.” “Everything you can do with (old game) words has already been said. We need to create a new language to create new things.”

You might as well be saying…

“We need to forget about storytelling rules — antagonists, pacing, conflict, etc…are very old words of a very old language.”

Now let’s be clear here, there are good novels without antagonists, pacing or even conflict. But none of these things represent an improvement to writing. They are interesting, unique gems, but they are not ‘casting aside the old rules for new, modern concepts.’ The things Cage list are ways in which game designers have found to convey pacing or divide stories or introduce drama. We have also found NEW ways to do the same thing, without discarding the old. We do not discard the fundamental language of a form of media when it grows to a certain age, we refine and improve it. 2d platformers (a genre that we still haven’t figured out entirely, nor said all there is to say about) now ascribe to newer, more modern rules than those who came before them. Bosses are just a way to project a peak in pacing. Segments like these can be conveyed many different ways. Big set pieces like nuclear explosions, or chase sequences or holding a base — all these things and more can do this, even cutting off some of your fingers. Is cutting off some fingers intrinsically better? Well, it’s shitty game play, but it does, even to the jaded gamer, have a bit of emotional weight to it, which is nice. Presentation wise, it’s also novel, even though mechanically it’s as old and dated as anything else. It’s good to add new words to the language of design.

“Why do you want to create a game where you just shoot everything? Let’s do something more meaningful.”

The terms used in the previous quote is the language of conflict and fighting. Is that because the industry is unoriginal? No. Not to say the industry isn’t unoriginal, but it has nothing to do with it’s reliance on conflict. Games are naturally about conflict. You win or you lose. Things pose danger and reward to you, giving your actions meaning and contrast. You can portray this in different ways. Abstractly, like Tetris, is an option. Or you can be like Monopoly which is non-violent conflict. Or you can embrace honest to god ‘shoot some dudes’ violence. These things are just framing devices for what are meaningful in game actions. When Cage says meaningful, he means, “artistically meaningful”, but that is not the only, or even ‘best’ way to be meaningful (there is no ‘best’).

Exploration gives us meaningful emotions. So does victory and conquest. Completing something difficult gives us a feeling of accomplishment. Actiony games have no fundamental issue with inspiring feelings of excitement and awe, tension and fear. These are meaningful emotions and are difficult to convey through other forms of media. Emotions related to moral ambiguity, or psychological horror, or even self-mutilation are often better conveyed in linear media. Whats worse, popping our own pimple or having someone else do it? Control gives comfort, while moral dilemmas and horror often work best when we lack control — when we feel helpless. A character can make a poor decision due to strong emotions, but we are not likely to do the same thing, because we are not real people… This leads into the next quote.

“If you only have one choice in a scene, it’s linear and boring. If you have lots of choices, you make…players the co-writer.”

This quote strikes me as exceptionally foolish. First, it assumes the player is just as qualified to write the story as the designer is. In Cage’s case, this may often be true, but not usually. Now, that’s not saying you can’t have co-authorship of the narrative — Bioware handles this quite nicely, but it doesn’t displace the need for cohesive narratives. Books and movies survive quite well in their linearity and control because it allows them a way to best execute a desired scene or story for maximum effect.

… But secondly, and this might be the most important part, it assumes that players, since even before days of Mario, have not taken co-authorship of the game world. Due to the nature of games (especially the actiony or cartoony games Cage seems to hate the most), we are constantly enforcing our will upon the world. I can play Super Metroid and at this point, practically do whatever I want and beat the game any which way is pleasing to me. Not having the high jump boots has more influence than missing a few finger joints, as far as each respective game is concerned. I am making REAL decisions with REAL consequences, not decisions that only influence the narrative. A 1up falling toward a pit in Mario is a case of real valuation, with real risk and real reward. These decisions influence the core of the game, not the presentation and trimmings of the game. Without art and narrative, Heavy Rain would be left as nothing but a boring, empty husk, but without art or a narrative, Pac-man, Mario, Super Metroid, Street Fighter, or even a game like Devil May Cry would still retain a large portion of their fun. Some of these games would lose something of significance, but still have enough pure force of game design to survive. In fact, as we replay many of these games over and over again, we strip the game of its art and narrative and stare into its core and use the mechanics we see to enforce our will upon the game world.

When talking about games, what is more important, the narrative that can be done anywhere, or the game design that can only be done in games? Clearly you can (and often should, but not always!) do both and, optimally, merge both types of decisions together. There’s a lot you can do in both design spaces and presentation can be a significant part of a game.

“We tried to move the challenge from the controller to the mind of the player.”

David Cage does not understand videogames. Strategic and tactical decisions have always existed in the mind. Many games do make use of input difficulty as a type of game play (such as my pet-genre, fighting games), but even there, decision making rests in the players head. What Cage wants to do is focus on the least mechanically interesting decisions, thinking that ‘narrative’ and ‘moral decisions’ are where games are at. David Cage seemed obsessed with the shallowest part of gaming — the part most like every other form of media. Now, we need to learn how to do that stuff and do it well, but to put the superficial on a pedestal while cursing the core of gaming is foolish. Whats worse, it’s hypocritical, as Heavy Rain relies so heavily on Quick Time Events, the purest definition of ‘challenge from the controller’.

David Cage seems to love movies more than he loves games and wants games to be more like movies. Interactive movies. Choose your own adventure stories. Things that have been tried since the CD-Rom drive came to computers with FMVs. We see, over the many attempts (Peter Molyneux’s entire career) that moral choice and decision making are not as effective as we wish them to be. Developers like Bioware are showing that it’s possible to tastefully pull off these concepts, but the narrative has still failed to supplant gameplay, the core of the gaming experience, and the games that do things the best, seem to be like Shadow of the Colossus, games where the actual gameplay meshes with the themes and concepts of the narrative. Basically, don’t listen to David Cage; Gaming Hollywood is overrated.

Too Much Talking Episode 18: The “Shrimp Isn’t Kosher” Episode

Featuring: Kayin, April, Patito, Eric, Ben

Too Much Talking #18 “Shrimp Isn’t Kosher” Episode 03/01/11

Oh god, a talk on Religion. Blame Oni for this one, but to be fair it stays pretty civil. We also talk about our favorite foods, fighting games and why we like the music we like! That stuff is pretty good too, even if it’s about stuff people can never agree on!

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