aesmael: (it would have been a scale model)
 If I were inclined to write fanfic rather than 'original' stories, would people like my stories more? If they had some prior investment and interest in the characters and what they get up to?

But this train of thought is rapidly derailed by the reminder that unless I actually write stories, no one is going to have opinions on them no matter whether they hypothetically would be fanfiction or not. So I should worry about making words happen at all before I worry whether and how people like them.

It also gives a bit of a lie to telling myself it's just me and what I want that I write, and the enjoyment of others is incidental. Probably the resolution to that conflict is I want to write things that please me, and for others to also tell me it's good.

aesmael: (transformation)
Ordinary household items sometimes sound like monsters because they are base from which audio technicians build the illusions of monsters.
aesmael: (haircut)

I know I made a post just recently about my wish that adapting sff genre works from prose to television would become commonplace, but now news is going around about one such adaptation that I'm skeptical about, the Foundation series.

The Foundation stories are so much a bundled set of short stories with cast and time period changing what seems like every few thousand words, I wonder how they're going to manage any sense of continuity. At that rate I'd expect a cast turnover every couple of episodes.

Then again, Asimov's writing was so distant and sparsely characterised for the Foundation stories, maybe it would be a great opportunity for writers to dive in and explore character drama at length. Not as if there is much pre-existing material for them to conflict with here.


2011-04-08 19:21

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

If we are to say SETI is a waste of time on the idea that alien intelligences are likely either much less advanced than us and thus uncontactable, or vastly more advanced than us and thus must both be aware of us and be deliberately ignoring us, well-

Depending on what threshold you choose for when super-advanced ETI would 'notice' us and decide we are / are not worth contacting, it isn't obvious we're being snubbed even if we are at a notice-ignore threshold, especially if we don't imagine faster than light technology.

We definitely consider a hypothetical ETI civlisation too primitive to contact if they aren't roughly as advanced as we are, because the only tools we have to make this hypothetical contact are radio and other electromagnetic manipulations. If they don't have radio telescopes, radar, or lasers and optical scopes at least as good as our own they could neither recognise a signal from us nor respond to it, and without a signal from an ETI I don't think we expect to begin analysing extrasolar worlds as probably life-bearing for at least another decade.

If that is a minimum for being able to receive communication short of being visited, then the earliest we would have crossed that threshold is somewhere between the early 20th century and 50 years from now, as a rough estimate. So for any hypothetical advanced ETI civilisation to have noticed us on that basis and decided to ignore us, it must have a decision-making outpost that's been dedicating a lot of telescope time to Earth within 100 light years at most.

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

Following a link to an image joke about the next actor to star in Doctor Who, one of the comments I saw provoked some thought.

"not real or .... this little boy? oh my God !! and the 13th doc is a sperm or what??"

It still seems as if people believe on a casual level that sexual reproduction occurs when a man deposits a new life into a woman's incubating chamber, that she is merely a passive nurturer of the child.

It seems a lot of the time when people envision an age regression into absurdity they place the soul of the person in question in the sperm rather than the egg, or concede directly that there's no person for a location to be attributed to.

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

I get annoyed when people use "I want to understand" to mean "I want your explanation to compel me to possess your perspective". An intellectual understanding should be sufficient.

Frex: "People dislike 'it' used as a pronoun often because that word is typically used as a term for inanimate objects or non-humans and people find it dehumanising, which they find unpleasant" should be sufficient. The explanation doesn't need to convince you to agree with other people, only to know what their perspective is - else it will never be 'sufficient' in your view.

At least in cases where it is a matter of differing personal preference, or of respecting another person's difference. One needn't convert eir perspective to that of the other party, only accept that the other party is accurately representing emself.

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

Probably because I have been reading so much about them again, some weeks ago the idea came into my head that someday, when I am much, much improved in my programming ability, I might try to make a roguelike game of my own.

Not with an expectation of popularity, or whatever, but because as a long-term goal I think it is difficult yet something I potentially could do. I'd like to try it. I want to become able to do such things. So I'd better work harder on developing my skills and finish those other projects of mine, right?

My first idea was to try and make some sort of World of Warcraft roguelike, mainly because I'd been saying for a while that if such a thing existed I'd play it, but also because a lot of the pieces of such a game seem to already existed. There are roguelikes with overland areas and multiple dungeons, ones with NPCs who give quests, and there is even an (under development) version of Diablo, which I believe has a similar random item scheme. Not that this would make such an undertaking anything near trivial for me. Most of the features mentioned previously are found in variants of the Angband codebase, which presumably are relatively easy to transfer across games (since I witness developers of those games speak of doing so and having done so), but DiabloRL at least runs on a different, closed engine, albeit one whose descendent is intended partly as a tool for easy roguelike making by others.

Anyway, even if those parts were easy, making it into the game it is supposed to be would still be a project of years. How does one convert a game designed to feature death as a painless, minor and frequent setback to a genre which has permadeath as a core mechanic? Or a game designed around multiplayer interaction, especially when it comes to defeating bosses, into something fit for solo play that still feels somehow like its inspiration?

I suppose one could compromise by making the spirit healers impose a harsh and permanent penalty, without the option of running to one's corpse in order to recover? But then why would anyone play a class other than shaman or warlock? Recent reading about the release in English of Shiren the Wanderer on the Wii suggests the idea that perhaps experience and items achieved in a dungeon cannot be kept unless it is completed (and survived). Surely a large part of the problem here is that I don't have a well-defined design problem or goal to work to, and am just speculating wildly about what such a game could be. That seems fine to me, as far as I know such wild speculation is a workable way to build a pool of ideas from which more coherent conception and design goals can be constructed. What can it be? What should it be?

Well, attempts to emulate the multiplayer aspect shouldn't result in players having to grind and maintain large stables of near-equal level characters to tackle dungeons a la Pokemon; I'm almost certain of that! Anyway, in the hypothetical future where actual coding work on this game happens I'd best start with something simple, probably something much simpler than making a basic demo Elwynn Forest to romp in, but the idea serves to say 'start simple'.

And I should probably make an actual development document for such ideas sometimes, but first I'm making a post because (right now) I enjoy being creative publicly and think maybe it is a good thing to do so. So, ideas and conversions and such?

Resting in inns / cities: get rid of, probably. That mechanic was aimed at decreasing addictive play by rewarding taking breaks. I don't think any game made by me is going to have that problem.
Flight points: Excellent idea for dealing with expansive overworld in my opinion. Unlikely to have flight animations but still! Free 'portation between visited zones. What if that could be integrated into some kind of save point mechanic? Let's not get carried away.
Hunger mechanic and food scarcity: "Drat! I could've taken the Lich King if only I didn't starve to death three chambers away."

Anyway, those are relatively superficial questions.
Classes and races: Obviously got to feel like the originals but how to do it, I don't know. Especially with the being built for inter-class synergy.
Multiplayer aspect and 'group' quests / dungeons: don't know. Maybe just build for a solo PVE experience - I don't intend to try for actual multiplayer, but if I could find a clever way to simulate it that would be great. Maybe some sort of limited cooperation like the original game's Dungeon Finder interface? Laugh now; me pulling that off is funny. And now I laugh again, because what if you could at points activate such a task-focused queue and be given temporarily a handful of random NPCs to assist you for something, working like NetHack's pets or Crawl's summonses?
Talents: presumably, might not require much innovation
Professions: someday maybe?
Quests: probably reduced to 'enter dungeon X and kill entity y'

And from the other side, it would certainly be turn-based and rendered in ASCII because that and random playing area generation is the point. Oh! What about randomised items for identification? Items don't play thaat much role in the game, so probably more would need to be added (and some that aren't good!) for having to identify them to be a worthwhile aspect of play. Which leads to... what is the scope? Is it meant to be a grindy, lengthy process like the original, or something quicker and simpler? And I don't know the answer to that.

All of which brings us to the other thing: the WoWRL idea ended up being a bit superseded a few days ago by a new inspiration. I was watching a Korean period martial arts film, English title Shadowless Sword and thought it would be a lot of fun to make a game in which the player character could do things like the characters in that film, or similar films... you'll need to use your imagination, it's just ASCII and text.

But it seemed an immediately compelling idea: make a roguelike game in which the focus is the combat itself (although to impart motive energy and some sort of sensibility probably there will need to be some sort of quest or goal, which will likely take on an importance) and the player is encouraged to pull off impressive feats with eir character.

I envision it as being that most enemies in the game would fall into the category 'mooks' and be little threat to the main character, tempered by frequent bosses with similar abilities to the player character. Perhaps a system in which skilfull or impressive stunts are rewarded, and thus faced with a boss or mini-boss opponent the player can use the swarms of mooks to build up some sort of luck (or whatever) bonus in order to pull off still greater feats and defeat eir foe?

I was thinking at character creation one would select from among a set of skilled-combat archetypes as character class, then be encouraged to specialise within that archetype by developing skills within that archetype's range. So I have been trying to think of character concepts which could be useful and fun to play in such a game. I don't, when it comes to it, know enough about that area of fiction to embark on a categorisation project, but perhaps I can learn and work from what others have done and know. Or how much distinction to make between styles - I was originally thinking you'd have wuxia-style character and... what else?

The film I saw isn't a wuxia film, I think, because that seems to be a specifically Chinese category, so either despite the characters having similar abilities to those in the few wuxia films I have seen there needs to be some distinction made, or a more general category made. Or I need to learn more to understand better the disctinction. What else?

I suppose the questions are more like: what is the term for the archetype found in many Asian films of the skilled warrior who fights with a variety of weapons and performs feats beyond the ability of ordinary humans? Who fights with a single weapon? Who fits with no weapon, or improvised weapons? What degree of distinction is useful to make? At the moment to me it looks like the useful distinctions are weapons / unarmed, with an option for specialising into a specific weapon for the former or improvising environmental weapons for the latter. I want to support things like fighting an entire battle with one's sword still in its scabbard (but still being used), or fighting an entirely evasive battle. Often, from what I've seen, important characters' weapons are also important or special, though more often in the sense of cuts through other blades / isn't cut through by other blades and being of high quality, rather than having, frex, a fiery aura. I always have difficulty telling if this is representative of the weapon's or the wielder's quality, but presumably a blend of both.

What else? In the realm of Western character types, Hollywood action films fall short. The characters may be skilled and resourceful, but not when it comes to the actual fighting in ways this game is meant to capture. So instead... swashbucklers and jedi. Yup. The primary criterion is 'character types who do fun and interesting things in battle', so nyah. Those present fun possibilities. The other closest approximation would be superheroes, but I don't want to write a superhero design interface and anyway I think the flavour doesn't quite fit.

I still have the nagging feeling that I'm not making a distinction between some character types who ought to be, and that I'm overlooking adding at least one category, but in neither case do I know what. At one point I thought to add a more directly martial character type like the European knight or the manga / anime character Guts, but in retrospect I think I was reaching and it wouldn't be interesting enough to justify itself.

Talking with people about this led to what could form a design goal for the project: the hypothetical player should find the content portrayed convincingly enough to run with be able to reasonably believe any two character types stand a fair chance with each other.

Would probably be a smaller game than the World of Warcraft one, but I wonder if it would be more difficult to write. It's the sort of thing that thrives on highly interactive environments. Oh! That's another thing - jedi characters probably benefit from having blaster bolts to deflect, but that might interfere with the balance of everything else. I thought about having each class initially begin in its own, segregated mini-dungeon but that's probably a bad idea, a stop-gap solution. Introduce gunslingers as a playable character type? Oh, that's enough, that's more than enough. Let's stop here and work on what's immediate.

Now here's another big question: years from now when (maybe) I've learned enough to actually code such games, will I still want to? Tess suggested if I want to make games I could start with a sprite game for the Android platform, maybe I should look into that.

I need better tags for this.

aesmael: (haircut)

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

Last time I put it down was when Stephen Wraysford's thoughts turned to the pain of abandonment as something he had feared all his life. When I read that I felt I now understood why Faulks had chosen to write a James Bond novel.

Abandonment as the source of pain had been a major theme in The Girl at the Lion d'Or too, so if that is a recurring theme for Faulks the author it makes sense for him to pen something Bondly. The character James Bond is not only someone who is a loner, he is lonely. An orphan, essentially raised by the British government to work for them in his adult life, the most stable connections he has are friendly colleagues. Any closer connections he forms die or betray him. Loneliness and the pain of abandonment are easy enough themes to work into a Bond story.

Looking at the brief bit relevant on Wikipedia it seems this may well be what he did.

aesmael: (nervous)

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

Recently I came across a discussion about constructing a website to serve as a resource for a community and a nexus for social interaction within that community. One of the possibilities under consideration was providing hosted blogging for community members.

It seemed likely to me that most members of a community (or social subset which could potentially form a community?) who were inclined to be blogging would already be doing so. I think as bloggers often create commentary and dialogue communities of their own, that in addition to providing a platform for new community members to blog if they wish, it could be beneficial to a fledgling community to ask established community bloggers if they would be willing to integrate their blog with the community site.

I suspect that would be a fair degree of technical challenge, since beyond merely syndicating the existing blog to the community website, I am also envisioning a unified comment thread, so that comments made at the blog's primary location would show up at the community site, and likewise comments made at that site by community members would also show up in the blog's own comment stream. At least to me that seems likely an effective balance between attempting to build local community, soliciting the contributions of established community members, and not asking people to uproot the niches they have settled themselves into.

As I said, I suspect there would be a fair amount of technical difficulty in doing such a thing, although I think previously the Bad Astronomy blog has been integrated with the Universe Today forums, so it seems possible and the increasing prevalence of OpenID might make it easier. The variety of blogging software platforms available I suspect makes the problem a lot harder, maybe entirely impractical.

aesmael: (Electric Waves)
Watching Bones and something is up such that I see the picture fine, music is heard, sound effects are heard, but not voice. So it seems voice is transmitted in a separate track to other components of the broadcast?

Some checking revealed voice was audible on a different version of the channel so it seemed more likely to be a transmission problem than a matter of settings on the television. Shortly after the credits voice returned to the channel in question accompanied by a puzzling flickering of the captions when they appear. My guess is someone at the station managed to fix the problem, perhaps by adding the voice track to the broadcast a second time - if the captions are carried on the same track as the voices being captioned that might explain the flickering since they are appearing on screen twice.

But, I don't know enough about television to be confident in this. In fact, I would be surprised if I learned I was correct in these conclusions, since why would the distributors deliver episodes to television networks in pieces to be assembled in broadcast? Although there is that tendency to overlay things like ads and voiceovers onto programs, but I don't think that is the same thing.

So, I've had some ideas but I don't know what is actually going on or why. Interesting error though.
aesmael: (haircut)
Perhaps I should moderate myself more. I read things people say which inspire me to polemical writing and the result, being caught up in rhetorical acts, is often something I would not be willing to say in direct conversation. This suggests to me either I should be interpersonally bolder, more rhetorically muted, or make clearer the distance between the words which inspire mine and the more generalised directions I tend to mean them.

In other news, it bothers me when people describe conservative religious leaders or leaders who invoke religion as 'probably faking belief to manipulate the masses'. It makes me think the speakers hold religion so in contempt they do not think believers are capable of such popular or effective leadership. I wonder if these people, often atheists, realise what they are saying sounds a lot like "I think much of what is worst in society is due to atheists cynically manipulating religious belief to their personal benefit". But I see no reason why these leaders couldn't mean what they say. Their followers appear to, mostly.
aesmael: (transformation)
I have said this before, although not here yet:
I think when we experience a desire to share music [or something else which may be the subject of a similar desire] with others this is often a proxy for a less commonly known or appreciated desire. I think what we often truly wish to share is the experience of the moment, the emotions that are being inspired in us. "I want to share this ecstasy, this joy, this wonder, this passion, this moment of empathy or grief or oneness [...] and the only way I know to even approach doing so is by sharing with you what is the immediate inspiration of my feelings."

Autism is often partly characterised as an extreme self-absorption, and my impression is this is considered some explanation for 'why autistic people are annoying to be around'. Of course I could not speak for everyone but that does not seem true to me. At least in that being so self-absorbed as to be uncaring of others or their feelings would suggest a low likelihood of sharing topical enthusiasm. The irritation to others would come from being unable to distinguish interest from disinterest in those being enthused to (something I have tried to learn). Also at least for me there are times when interest and enthusiasm overflow and I feel compelled to express it somehow - If I try not to I find myself moving to do it some minutes later anyway, without volition in my mental record. Since, thanks to the first thing I tend to feel guilty and end up apologising lots if I try sharing with people in person, even if I try to make sure they actually are interested and even if they actually are interested, this often results in prolific blogging and tweeting. Which I've missed over the past year or two but that's one of the costs of being liked, apparently maybe.

Which is possibly a bit off-track. This is more like two posts squashed together into one, the first expressing an opinion about what drives sharing of emotional inducers and the second saying roughly "The world is fantastic and wonderful and I love it and often write lots because I want to participate in this wonder and joy with other people and share / gain understanding back and forth". That's been said before, will be again. Sometimes get caught up in the urge to.
aesmael: (haircut)

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

I like writing stories. You like reading stories. Do you like my stories enough to keep reading them?

This is not intended as a personal question. The 'I' is generic, so is the you.

Automated story generation. It is an idea I first picked up from 1984, where stories were mass-produced by machines to keep the proles sedated. Since about then I've considered such story generation a plausible, likely sort of eventuality. Included it in some stories no one yet has read. I don't see why there couldn't such production of stories unless we turn out to be living in a dualist or otherwise supernatural sort of universe.

Typically I see it as a bit of a personally bleak prospect. Writers as a set of humans obsoleted by an equivalent or superior source of fiction. Today I wondered about parochialism, and maybe for some time people would prefer stories written by humans because of the sort of prejudices that lead them to say only humans can make stories worth reading, humans have creativity, humans have something ineffable that sets them apart. Maybe some would like reading the stories of those they knew or liked. I wonder in such a scenario how likely it is human authors would still develop a following.

*meaning here stories made by (nonhumans made by humans to some degree of antecedence)

aesmael: (haircut)
We so seldom see characters motivated by curiosity, especially protagonists. We have redemption, duty, unwilling and forced by destiny or other situational imperative, kindheartedness, self-aggrandisement, various self-interests, but so seldom does it seem to be curiosity, to be 'I want to know what is out there, I want to know how it works'.

Interesting to realise and I wonder why. For myself curiosity is a big motivation for interest in genre fiction, and for my characters too, yet in many stories characters are blocked off from explanations, or actively disinterested.

Is it uncommercial? Bad storytelling? Founded on false or incomplete beliefs about people's beliefs, interests and satisfactions in entertainment? I don't know. Is just my impression there is a dearth of characters motivated by the joy of discovery. I want to see more of that. Kindheartedness and the spirit of adventure too.
aesmael: (tricicat)
I am often inclined to say, if post-sporting interviews are always reiterations of the same formula, the same questions and responses, then they are pointless and may as well not happen.

But, what if this ritual serves some purpose? What would that be? Do we get repetition of form questions and form responses because the audience punishes variation? Or, is there a different purpose this structure fills?
aesmael: (just people)
This was originally composed as a response to a guest post at Questioning Transphobia:

Lately I am increasingly inclined to be critical of 'empathy' as applied to autistic and neurotypical* people. We might say autistic people lack empathy because they often do not have an intuitive understanding of people different from themselves, thoughts, feelings, motivations and actions. But then, it seems to me neurotypical people display an equal lack of empathy toward autistic people - they say autistic people do things for no reason, are 'mysteries', are 'unable to relate'.

So I suspect neurotypical people are not actually more empathetic than autistic people, but most people are like them and so they have a lot of opportunities to be accurate in attributing motive, feeling, desire, etc. who operate largely similarly to themselves. But they also happen to be the majority, or at least are in power and presented as default, so 'empathy' becomes 'ability to relate to and understand me'.

Actually, given the way people are treated across borders of culture, identity, physiology, am inclined to question whether empathy as it is claimed to be is much expressed at all.

*here used to mean 'not autistic', despite my interpretation of neurodiversity as being broader than merely autism; such an interpretation unfortunately leaves me without the clear and easy way to express this which neurotypical originally provided.
aesmael: (probably quantum)
Recently have noticed an increasing tendency for people in blog discussions to address each other as @name followed by a space, the format used by Twitter for replies. In the past I would mainly see people address each other like so:


or sometimes


Interesting development, this. I suspect Twitter did not pioneer that style of reference but I would be very surprised if it were not responsible for popularising it, assuming what I am noticing is a genuine shift.
aesmael: (haircut)
For a few months now at least I have seen several people decrying the idea of 'thought crime', that some thoughts, desires, ideas, etc. are wrong in and of themselves, immoral and perhaps deserving of some sort of punishment even if they lead to know action.

It makes sense to me. A thought in itself harms no one, is not going to lead to harm unless acted on (or inacted on). There is no need to police or outlaw thoughts because people are free to think whatever they like; our only concern is to prevent people's rights from being infringed on by others.

Except... it seems that only makes sense under particular moral or ethical systems. If I value things like personal freedom and rights, protection from harm by others. There are other systems under which thoughts can be considered effectively criminal, even punished.

If I believed some thoughts were damaging to the person thinking them and that people ought to be protected from themselves, it might make sense to take some action against that person's will (frex: suicidal thoughts).

If I believed some thoughts had a corrosive effect on the morality and self-control of the person thinking them, and that it is right or imperative to act to prevent possible harm then the idea of wrong or bad thoughts which need to be controlled or cured will make sense to me. Examples: rape fantasies or paedophilia.

If I believe some thoughts constitute immoral acts in themselves I might think that is a matter of community or personal responsibility. Possibly something for the person to deal with emself but possibly it would be a matter for the community to respond to, perhaps attempting to condition the person away from those thoughts, prohibiting their exercise or otherwise attempting to persuade em eir mind is wrong and needs to change. Example:
Mat 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

So it can make a lot of sense to seek to control or restrict the minds of others to a moral end. Other religions like Buddhism also have a conception of thoughts as able to be right or wrong, although I think that is treated more definitely as a personal rather than a social matter.

It doesn't make sense if we are concerned only with whether a person's actions harm others or infringe on their rights, and not with that person's thoughts. If that is not the stance we begin with, however, I doubt it's assertion would do much to sway our opinion. It seems likely we would need to address instead the reasons for holding a particular perspective initially before attempting to persuade people to adopt a differing perspective, but ethical / moral persuasion remains a great mystery to me.
aesmael: (tricicat)
Often I see descriptions like 'radical' or 'fundamentalist' or 'extreme' applied to people and their positions in an apparent effort to dismiss them. It seems to work; I think we can see that in how people frequently try to distance themselves from any such accusation.

I do not think those should be considered traits worthy of automatic dismissal rather than evaluation on the basis of their content. Well of course, we might say so if we think so. What stands out to me right now about these terms is that they are used to mark a stance as being far outside the mainstream. It seems to me like a lot of the opprobrium arising from association with these words is related to that distance from status quo, to say that having very significant disagreement with how things are is a failing in itself.

That's all for now.
aesmael: (haircut)
"Why do you want to X?"
"Because my friends are and participating with them will provide us with shared memories and socialisation which will serve to further strengthen the bond of our friendship."

It seems contradictory to me, even hypocritical, that children are taught they ought to want to do things with other children but that they ought not do something because their friends are. I think what people are really after is ostensibly to teach from a young age the ability to recognise harmful or undesired actions and be in possession of the capacity to refuse participation in these even in the face of social pressure.

Except that parents or other authoritative people in a young person's life tend to want em to acquiesce to the pressures they place on em to engage in activities they approve of and to avoid those they disapprove of, often without particular reference to whether the person in question shares this desire. So we end up with apparently contradictory messages, such as that excursion in primary school in which teachers were insistent that I come join the other students in watching a video on why conformity is bad, rather than being off doing my own thing. I found that hilarious.

A certain degree of cooperation is necessary, so far as I can see, to keep a society functional, but I do not recall being taught this. Instead we get the message that we should do as everyone else is expected to, but not do what everyone else is doing, and thereby be anything we want to be.

Let's turn this around. Instead of[1] teaching people to resist peer pressure, let's teach people not to exert social pressure to coerce participation from the unwilling. Why must the onus be always on the victim to avoid being victimised? Why not teach people not to abuse the power and influence they have over others?

[1] As well as, really, but I like having a corrective footnote



September 2017

101112131415 16
17 181920212223


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated 2017-09-24 03:11
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios