Schedule for Next Week

Mar. 1st, 2015 05:00 pm
[syndicated profile] grand_master_puzzles_feed

Posted by drsudoku

All the puzzles from our “Will Shortz’s Sudoku” teaser week can be found in this PDF.

This next week will start with a special giant puzzle on Monday, marking Prasanna’s Birthday, and then our regular difficulty trend will start on Tuesday. The specific focus is loop puzzles, with Castle Wall, Masyu, Yajilin, Balance Loop, and Round Trip all appearing.

The bonus puzzle for our Expert and above patrons will be a TomTom by Grant Fikes.

The post Schedule for Next Week appeared first on The Art of Puzzles.

Midnight Rezzed-istance

Mar. 1st, 2015 02:18 pm
[syndicated profile] midnightresistance_feed

HELLO. Because Loading is celebrating its fifth birthday, and because Rezzed is on, Andi and Sean are finally doing the very first Midnight Resistance live show, for which you will need to grab a free ticket here.

You're probably wondering how that would work, since the show mostly just consists of us talking about what games we've played recently. Well, you're right - that wouldn't work, so we're not quite doing that. Instead, expect the following:

 

GAME RUMOUR GENERATOR: LIVE

Oh yes, sir. We felt it made sense to repeat the only successful thing we've ever done, but with bits of paper and bags and people funnier than us helping to discuss the generator's results.

 

SOME KIND OF SKILL-BASED COMPETITION PROBABLY INVOLVING EXCITE TRUCK

In which Sean will give away one of the most expensive games in the WORLD. If you think you're some kind of hot-shit at Excite Truck, STEP UP. If you don't, one of our mates will do it out of pity, then they'll end up winning and the whole thing will look rigged.

 

MASKS OF OUR FACES

Not sure what for, but we've got a few weeks yet.

 

PEOPLE FROM OTHER, BETTER PODCASTS AND DEVELOPERS MAYBE

Nothing's set in stone yet, but it's looking likely we'll be dragging Laura Rich (The Recycle Bin), Gareth 'G-Dootz' Dutton (Chat Very Good) and Andrew Smith (Split Milk Studios) onto the stage to make noises for your entertainment. Maybe other people as well, we don't KNOW.

 

A QUESTIONS BIT

It's everyone's favourite part of the show, so fuck it. The second half of the show will be you lot screaming questions at us about games or our favourite burgers or whatever, and us trying to answer them.

 

And if this all sounds a bit shit - it does, doesn't it? - there are two things you should bear in mind.

Thing one: It's FREE to enter

Thing two: As soon as we're finished, the mighty Sabrepulse is 'doing' a 'set', which will be amazing.

 

Get yourself a bloody ticket, eh?

CHEERS,

Sean and Andi xx

jjhunter: Watercolor purple ruffled monster with mouthful of raw vegetables looks exceedingly self-pleased (veggie monster)
[personal profile] jjhunter
I made pizza at the co-op the other day. Used this sourdough recipe for the crust, though quadrupled for co-op quantities, and with quarter the quantity of sourdough starter (n.b. for future conversions: 1 cup starter fed 50:50 is roughly equivalent to 2 1/4 tsp dried yeast + 1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup flour).

For one pizza, we made persian eggplant dip to use as a base, and topped with roasted red peppers. For vegan half, added walnuts; for non-vegan half, shredded cheddar.

For another pizza, we used a variant on a Grilled mushroom and white bean dip for the base, and topped with baby spinach, sauteed mushrooms, and caramelized onions.

For the final pizza, I did my best version of butternut squash pizza yet! detailed instructions behind the cut )
beccatoria: (vid all the things!)
[personal profile] beccatoria posting in [community profile] vidding

Dear Vidders & Vid Fans!



As you may know, VidUKon will be running for the fifth time in Cardiff Bay, 12 - 14 June 2015. Registration is open! While we very much hope to see you there in person, Supporting memberships are also available and we will be running VirtUKon again for our virtual attendees. An Attending membership is £40, (although this will rise to £52 on 10 April 2015) and a Supporting membership is £16.



Check out our amazing promo trailer, created for us by the fantastic MariKs!



OUR PROMO VID! )

We are also pleased to announce the following, exciting news!



We are launching a SCHOLARSHIP with free attendance, dinner and accommodation, organising VIDDER AUCTIONS and looking for sign-ups, we have a new SHOP and we'll be announcing our SCHEDULE very, very soon, but there's still a little time to join the discussion!



DETAILS HERE!

Episode 1164: Guilty Parties

Mar. 1st, 2015 10:11 am
[syndicated profile] darths_and_droids_feed

Episode 1164: Guilty Parties

PCs will naturally associate with various people in their adventures. But they won't always know everything about them. Perhaps they'll become friends with a gregarious and helpful innkeeper who looks after them when they return after tough stints of monster fighting in the wilderness.

Imagine then if they find clues that lead to the conclusion that twenty years ago the innkeeper was the infamous necromancer who ravaged the countryside for miles all around, apparently now retired.

Or is he...??

Natural History

Mar. 1st, 2015 03:00 pm
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed
Rumor: Actor Morgan Freeman said that he finds the concept of Black History Month to be 'ridiculous.'

The Emperor's New Road to El Dorado

Feb. 28th, 2015 10:04 pm
sineala: Kaylee (from Firefly) looks to one side, dubiously; the text reads "hmm." (hmm)
[personal profile] sineala
So, [personal profile] lysimache and I, in need of a way to spend Saturday night, decided to watch The Emperor's New Groove, because it was on Netflix. Whatever. Llamas.

So we watched it and it was pretty good, but then we were both like, well, Tumblr always made this movie sound really slashy and it kind of wasn't and I thought there was a guy with a lute?

The next movie on the queue: The Road to El Dorado. Oh. Guess what we're watching now.

Apparently they are TWO DIFFERENT MOVIES. And this one is the slashy one and no one is a llama in it although honestly I think I would have liked the combination movie best. The one that exists in my head. But, hey, apparently there were two animated movies about being all quest-y in the New World from the year 2000. Who'd have guessed? Not me!

Dark Fall: Wrong Orders

Mar. 1st, 2015 02:15 am
[syndicated profile] the_stack_feed

Posted by Carl Muckenhoupt

Not much progress in my last session, beyond revisiting places and taking better notes this time. I’m starting to think I’ve been approaching this game wrong. I started out the way I’d start any mystlike: by exploring the entire accessible environment. In fact, most of the rooms of the hotel are empty and uninteresting, apart from atmospheric details like ominous and incomprehensible muttering heard in one room, or a pair of scissors embedded in the wall in another. Only a few have details you can inspect more closely, drawers you can open, and so forth. When I went back to the lobby again (finding a few more clues in the process), I think I finally understand the purpose of those breakfast orders I had noticed before: each one mentions a room number. Those specific rooms are ones of interest. It makes sense, I suppose. The orders show that those rooms had guests in them immediately before the hotel was completely abandoned.

Then there’s the matter of the telephones. There are two: one in the lobby that rings spontaneously when you enter the room, one by the station waiting room that you have to use a coin on. In both cases, on my first interaction with them, all I heard was a sound like a radio being tuned. It turns out that I was too impatient. If you sit and wait on the phone long enough, eventually you get a voice on the other end, giving you some slight orientation. One of the voices says to find a key that he hid in a teapot, although he can’t remember where he left the teapot. This could have lent some meaning to my earlier explorations. There are multiple teapots around, so every time I saw one, I could have been thinking “Maybe that’s the one!” But in fact, by the time I heard the hint, I had already found the key.

There’s a problem here, and it has two halves. One half is that the stuff that the author wants to hint at is too easy to find without those hints. The hotel isn’t large enough to discourage exhaustive exploration. Interactive details are sparse enough that each one of them attracts interest even if you don’t have the context that’s supposed to motivate that interest. The other half is that the motivating context is far too unobtrusive. I suppose that the ringing telephone was supposed to be a solution to this, and it certainly got me to head straight for the phone and pick it up, but it was derailed when I didn’t hear anything useful. Put the two halves together, and you have solutions that are easier to find than clues. There’s actually a general source of gentle hints, an invisible friendly ghost who hangs out on the bridge over the train tracks, but he’s the worst of all. As the ghost warns, he can only help you if you come directly to him from the thing you want help on, but there isn’t any obvious direct route to the bridge from most of the hotel, so I’ve only managed to get him to comment on one puzzle located very near the bridge. It all seems like the sort of thing you get when an author makes assumptions about what players will do, instead of doing adequate playtesting.

There are other cases where things went in the right order, mind you. For example, I found the correct coordinates for the theodolite puzzle by reading a journal, rather than by twiddling the theodolite at random. But that was just good luck. I did find the theodolite and spend some time twiddling it first.

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[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Once a month I try to answer the things that people typed into search engines to find my blog as if they are questions. It’s an exercise in mixed results.

1.

if he doesnt want the title does that mean he doesnt want u

If you were a Princess and he said “I love you but I don’t want the title of Prince-Consort, I’d rather just be Bill” you should definitely talk through your wants and expectations. If you’re doing sex with someone and you say “are we boyfriend and girlfriend now?” and they say “Babe, let’s not put labels on this,” it’s a sign that they aren’t really planning a future or a serious relationship with you, so think through your wants & expectations.

2.

i had my first kiss and we teeth bamged is that bad

Most of the kisses we see in cinema are first kisses between the partners – a release of tension that has been building up, a grand sweeping statement of a feeling, like “true love’s kiss” in a Fairy Tale. Or they are last kisses or first AND last kisses – “In case the alien invasion succeeds and I don’t come back!”, etc. The stories want us to think that these kisses are extremely meaningful and perfect and that they are a sign of everything syncing up and falling into place for two people via the visual metaphor of two mouths meeting while the camera spins around. Those kisses are choreographed, framed, and designed by a team of people to be perfect on screen because the entirety of that relationship – the tenor of what future sex will be like, the chemistry between the characters and the performers, the depth of their connection – has to be hinted at and summed up on screen by that one kiss.

Actual humans in kissing-type arrangements take a lot more trial-and-error, and since all of our kisses don’t take place the night before Final Battles, we fortunately get to conduct more trials.Teeth happen, noses are sticky-outy, braces exist, glasses get in the way, sometimes you don’t know what to do with your hands, sometimes you both lunge at the same time, sometimes you get a weird thought in your head and you can’t stop laughing. Imagine framing up a photograph and adjusting the focus on a manual camera. The image is blurry at first, but you gently move the focusing ring back and forth until you find the sweet spot on the lens and suddenly it’s clear. Different lens, different subject, different spot, you’ve got to mess with the focus again to make it come right. That’s what learning to kiss someone new is like – fiddling about, gently, until suddenly it works. If you like this person and they like you, adjust your trial to error ratio with more trials.

3.

when a spouse gets home real late,and dinner is on table for them,do majority put food away after eating or leave for wife in bed to clean up

I’ll take sad Family Feud poll/questions for $200, Alex! Not sure what the wider statistics are, but I’m pretty sure that whoever searched for this is within their rights to say, “Hey, can you clean up your dishes before you come to bed and not leave them for me anymore? I’d really appreciate it, thanks.” There are no rules about which gender does which housework, so you can and should negotiate everything.

4.

leave me alone military masons…i aint got shit to do with your polyamery

Alan Rickman in Galaxy Quest-alien-makeup, looking very very very confused.

5.

hallmark cards for friends considering divorce

An overlooked market. Not sure they make that card that you could (or should) send to both people in a floundering marriage. If you’re closer to one of them, a nice card letting that person know you are thinking about them, maybe with an offer to catch up over coffee or lunch or a movie would probably be appreciated. Offering to watch their kids, if they have them, and give them some free time is a nice gesture. Breaking up a longstanding partnership is a lonely affair, so whatever you can do to say “you are loved” without getting in the middle of their business will probably go a long way.

6.

why do exes apologize when its too late. what do they want?

Sometimes they genuinely want to see if they can make an old wrong right – their behavior isn’t sitting right with them and they hope that acknowledging the wrong they did will give closure to the situation. Sometimes they want to preserve the story they tell about themselves where they are a good person. Abusers apologize to gain continued access to their victims.

You don’t have to acknowledge or accept every apology that comes your way. Just because someone said it, doesn’t mean it’s about you or for you to deal with. If it gives you perspective, and healing, great. If not, put it behind you with the rest of that relationship.

7.

how to know ur ex still loves u,even when u both ain’t in good terms

Assume they don’t, or that even if they do, it’s not important to what you decide to do next. The hardest thing, I know.

8.

what does it mean when guy posts things to your facebook wall

Depends a LOT on the content and on the frequency. What happens to your perception if you interpret it as “Hey, look at me, look at me, look at me!”?

What happens if you interpret it as “I just really really wanted you to know about (topic of this article I linked)!”

What do you want it to mean?

9.

is it wrong to invite people that you don’t know well to a party

I’m having a party, I’d love you to stop by if you can” is a nice way to show someone you’d like to get to know them better. Not wrong.

If you’re not the host of the party, that’s a different story – check in with the host first.

10.

is it weird to want to.touch a waitress

Review time: Don’t hit on customer service people when they are at work, and for fuck’s sake don’t touch them. We all admire people we find attractive, but not everybody we find attractive needs to know those thoughts.

11.

guide to loving a man who hates himself

For the first draft of this guide, so far I’ve got:

Prevention is best, so, if you meet a man who is really broody and down on themselves, it’s cool to decide not to hang out with them more. Wean yourself from the fairy tale that the brooding negative guy is more interesting than the friendly, relaxed guy. Carry this comic with you at all times as a reminder.

If it’s too late for you, and you’re already in a relationship with a man who hates himself, remember: You can’t love someone into loving themselves, so make sure that you keep loving yourself and prioritizing your own well-being and happiness. Love what is actually present, not his potential. Avoid becoming this man’s sole source of emotional and social support. Make sure you have a strong Team You and that he is not your sole source of emotional and social support. A functional adult relationship takes effort and maintenance, but do not romanticize the idea that struggle, heartbreak, and work somehow make love more true or real or sweet.

 

If he’s mean to you, leave and don’t look back. Mean is a choice, and mean self-hating dudes almost always get meaner.

It’s a work in progress. What do you think?

12.

is he shy or asexual

Dunno. Some questions that might be more relevant to you at this time:

  • If you were sitting alone at a table in a public space, like a library or cafe, and he came in, would he drop by your table to say hi to you at some point?
  • Would you drop by and say hi if the roles were reversed?
  • If you talk to him, does he enthusiastically respond and try to keep the conversation going?
  • If you ask him out, does he want to go?
  • If you go out on some dates and that’s all going well, and you bring up the idea of sex, what does he say?
  • If you are the kind of person who really wants to be asked instead of doing the asking, is “he” the right fit for you at all?

13.

book on how to get along with neighbors that just drop by?

I don’t know of a book about this, but what would happen if you a) modeled calling first to check if it’s okay before going to see them, b) the next time they drop by and you are not in the mood, said “Wow, great to see you, but this isn’t a good time! Howabout I call you tomorrow and we’ll set up a time to catch up!” and then close the door and go back to what you are doing (then call them when you said you would), c) if it keeps being an issue, ask them directly to call before dropping by. If you always stop what you are doing to let them in, they can be forgiven somewhat for thinking that you are okay with it, so, give it some time.

14.

when u tell girl that you want the relationship to break up if she say yes what the that mean

I think…it means…you broke up? Which you wanted, and she agreed to immediately, so, yaaaaaaaaay! /

15.

how do i talk to my daughter about her dysfunctional life

Does she think her life dysfunctional, and does she want your advice or help? I’m sure you have a long list of worries to work from here, but maybe start with spending some time with her where you don’t critique anything about her life (do something for the pleasure of each other’s company). Then ask her how she is doing and listen to what she says. Don’t jump in with advice unless she asks for it. Try treating her as you would treat a dear friend. If she brings up problems, listen, empathize, but don’t jump in to solve them – “That sounds hard. What do you think you’ll do?” If you can get in a groove like that one, you’ll be in a better position to be able to say “Daughter, you don’t seem like yourself lately, is there anything I can do to help?” and have her really hear you.

16.

why does a married man not only brag about his genitals on craigslist but also have a picture on it?

He wants people to look at his junk. Maybe he’s trying to hook up with people for actual encounters. Maybe he just gets off on sharing the pics. Posting on Craigslist has several distinct steps that prevent anything from “accidentally” being posted there.

17.

my boss is confident i won’t leave so gives me work but no promotion

Sounds like a good time to polish your resume and see what else is out there.

18, 19, 20, and 21: STAR WARS: A NEW NOPE

my girlfriend wouldn’t wanna have sex with me. what to say to confuse her
should i duck my girlfriend when she is sleeping
i wan to fuck ma gf btt she is not ready plzz help me
how to seduce a girl to an extent of having sex
The face I made when I read these things.

Real dismay captured in real time with real hat-hair.

My young Jedi searchers, please do not join the Sith. Please read all of Scarleteen’s resources on consent before you talk about or attempt sex with another human being. Maybe start with How Can Men Know If Someone Is Giving Consent Or Not? Here is Doctor Nerdlove on the topic of enthusiastic consent, for a dude-to-dude take on the matter.

It’s okay to want and desire sex with someone, but good men do not pressure people for sex. Good men do not “confuse” or “surprise” their partners into sex. Good men show their partners that they want them to be completely ready and on board for sex before attempting sex. Good men know that sex is something you do with someone with their enthusiastic consent and not to them, unawares.

Please educate yourselves, and be good men who have good sex.

 

—————————-

Thanks for your kind support during Winter Pledge Drive Week. Happy Get The Fuck Out Of Here, February! Day to all.

 

 


naraht: (Default)
[personal profile] naraht
Via [personal profile] lilliburlero and [personal profile] moetushie:

If you could have me write a fic specifically for you, what would it be like? Fandom, characters/pairing, genre, plot elements, kinks (if applicable)... what's your ideal fic from me?

Trinity: design ruminations

Feb. 28th, 2015 08:46 pm
[syndicated profile] gameshelf_feed

Posted by Andrew Plotkin

This is not a detailed review of Infocom's Trinity, because Jimmy Maher has just finished that job. His sequence of posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) puts the game into its context in Infocom's history and, more broadly, in the history of the Atomic Age (remember that?) and the Cold War. Go read.

Inevitably Maher comes around to the question of the ending -- the "...what just happened?" denouement. (You can read just that one post if you're familiar with the game.) It's not the first time, of course. Maher links to a Usenet thread in which we went 'round this topic in 2001.

It's generally agreed that the plot logic of the ending doesn't really hold together. In fact, my teenage self was moved to write a letter of complaint to Infocom! I received a gracious response -- I think it was written by Moriarty himself -- which basically said "The game ends the way we felt it had to end." Which is unarguable. (This letter is in my father's basement somewhere, and one day I will dig it out and scan it with great glee.)

But today I am moved to be argumentative. If I were the author of Trinity, what would I have done?

(Oh, sure, I'm being presumptuous too. All due apologies to Moriarty. But we're both thirty years older; we're different people than the author and player circa 1986. It's worth a rethink.)

(I will assume that you've played the game and read Maher's post. If not, massive spoilers ahoy.)


As everybody has pointed out, Trinity is already constructed in the language of whimsy and metaphor; it starts out with a Lewis Carroll quote and builds from there. So expecting rigid logic is a fool's errand. Nonetheless, I do want a story to make sense when read at face value. (James Nicoll: "I don’t mind hidden depths but I insist that there be a surface.") Or, if the logic goes all Looking-Glass, it should do so in a thematic way.

Trinity offers the notion that the first atomic bomb would have "blown New Mexico right off the map" if we hadn't sabotaged it. Atomic bombs are vastly more powerful than we think. The little 20-kiloton blast that 1945 witnessed was "quantum steam", a side effect of changing history from a catastrophic New Mexino disaster to the timeline we know.

Maher discusses this in terms of eternal tragedy. Fine, I'd buy that -- except that it matters that atomic bombs don't work. Or work differently. Oppenheimer and Teller were wrong! All the physicists since then have been wrong. You can't just drop that into the story and not care what it means. Politics: all the mad calculations of MAD were orders of magnitude off-true. Science: the notion of fusion power, whatever that's worth, is built on quicksand. That's not a theme of "history is inevitable, we have come full circle" -- it can't be, because our history isn't what we think!

Or else the game isn't even about us, but about some other universe full of people. Sucks to be them.

But how else could the story have been cast?


Trinity could have followed through on its implied promise: you will prevent Trinity. Thus you prevent Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and the nuclear detente of the Cold War; and the envisioned nuclear conflict which ends civilization. A game which goes down this road is clearly pablum. It trivializes every triumph and disaster of our postwar history with a jovial "Well, don't do that then!"

Alternate history is tricky at best. We've all seen "if this goes on" think-pieces, which project some pet peeve into (inevitably) some variety of jackbooted dystopia, all in three smug pages and a glowering byline. They're laughable. You can just about build a respectable novel this way, if you spend the pages to develop an actual world and characters; if you have the human insight of an Orwell or a Walton. Infocom's shot at this was of course AMFV, and we generally agree that it didn't work. The world they packed into 256k of Z-code was just too sketchy.

For Trinity, whose body was a solitary metaphorical puzzle-quest, to develop a vision of a nuclear-free utopia in the last scene -- it would be a joke. We'd have no reason to care, and no reason to believe it beyond the author's "I said so." Scratch that plan.


Trinity could have ended by snatching the candy out of your hand. You begin in our history, foreseeing a nuclear war. You try to sabotage Trinity to prevent it. But you cannot: the Laws of Time (or whatever) are immutable. Thus, all comes to pass. We got the Bomb, they got the Bomb, we are rushing towards the end.

This would be bleak. (Bleak is already on the table, of course.) It would fit Maher's discussion of the moment of the abyss, the Great Change in the midst of inevitable tragedy.

But, on the other hand, you'd have to make it work as a game too. It's hard to make failure work as a satisfying ending of a puzzle-quest. Possible, of course! But Infocom had already done Infidel (with mixed success, although teenage-me was satisfied). Repeating that ending would make it seem even more of a gimmick.

You'd have to rearrange the ending, anyhow. Infidel works because the final puzzle has powerful narrative momentum (Indy always finds the secret treasure!) and a direct link to the tragic ending (the tomb has One Last Trap). If Trinity's final puzzle is sabotaging the bomb, you're going to sabotage that bomb. Any other outcome would feel like a failure to solve the puzzle. If the puzzle were to reach the bomb -- and reaching it truly felt like a climactic moment -- then the player might accept some other denouement. But, more likely, it would feel like a cheat.

A variation would be for the protagonist to refuse to complete the sabotage. It's hard to imagine the player buying into this, though. You'd have to spend the whole game arguing for the preservation of history. Sure, erasing it all is empty polemic, but -- faced with the awful alternative -- the player engaged with the story has every motivation to try it.

So scratch that too.


We might leave the final choice unresolved; leave the future in the protagonist's hand, and thus in the player's imagination. This avoids both the unsatisfying failure and the just-so story of success. If done barefaced, though, it would be just as unsatisfying as an unsolved puzzle.

One can imagine ways to make it work. Perhaps build the entire story around choice, with visible glimpses of alternate outcomes for each scene. More ambitiously: have every major puzzle embody a choice, so that multiple solutions serve as multiple paths-not-taken for the story. These wouldn't have to form an exponentially-branching tree; a collection of independent (but irrevocable, in the story-world) choices would make the point. Have the paths-not-taken hover and haunt the player. Now the player, facing an unknown and unresolved ending, will do the work of imagining the alternatives for us. Or so we hope.


Being me, I have to suggest the indirect, metaphorical ending. You leave the conclusion open to interpretation: what was dream, what was metaphor, what was the hallucination of a brain being incinerated in nuclear fire?

Infocom went some distance in this direction, or we wouldn't have long blog posts about the ending to begin with. But I'd say they provided a single clear narrative for the ending -- terse, but clear. Other aspects of the story (such as the time-loop nature of the Wabewalker and their corpse) are left more open; to me, more satisfyingly open.

This stuff can be made to work, if you spend the game building up plausible hypotheses. And the author has to have a logical framework, even though it's not explained to the player. I'll admit up front that I have such a framework for Hadean Lands, and no, I won't talk about it... But I'll go through the process of imagining what might underlie this alternate Zarfian Trinity.

The hallucination-while-dying gag is even more of a gimmick than the Infidel ending. Go ahead, accuse me of using it anyway. Well, if Terry Gilliam can pull it off after Ambrose Bierce closed the book on it... But we won't try to repeat it here.

Nearly as common is the you-are-not-who-you-think-you-are gag. This, at least, can be varied to suit the storyline. We might decide that the protagonist is a guardian of history, a peer of the giggling narrator. Or that the protagonist is the giggling narrator, talking to themself across the timeline. Or maybe the protagonist is Oppenheimer?

Not Oppenheimer, let's say, but all of the innocent (or guilty) bystanders in each of the history scenes. You are not the London vacationer; you take their viewpoint temporarily, up to the point where they enter the explosion. Then you take the viewpoint of a Russian technician, and so forth. The realization that you are in a different body in every scene would arrive gradually. This would require a different approach to some scenes, of course. (There is no NPC viewpoint in space, and the Bikini test -- the dolphin perhaps?) Then, at the Trinity site, you are Donald Hornig, babysitting the equipment until -- contra real history -- you/he find yourself at risk. There's your crucial, personal choice.

I rather like this plan; it gives us a chance to read the story from a real person's perspective, rather than the Infocom-style everynerd. (Of course, at the time Trinity was being written, Hornig was teaching down the street at Harvard! There's a real-people-fiction discussion to be had there, but I won't get into it.)

All of these storytelling gimmicks, while certainly gimmicks, serve to refocus the player's attention on the story. That's why I keep coming back to them. Rethinking everything that's happened from a new perspective is, well, thinking about everything that's happened! And when your ending is difficult to accept, it always helps for the player to figure it out rather than being handed it on a plate. It gives 'em a sense of investment, right? That's the point of interactive narrative in the first place.


Finally (for this post) we have the ending in which you choose between our history and some more terrible one. This was Moriarty's option, and I think it's workable. My objection is to how Trinity framed that choice: as a forked history in which neither choice is really our world.

Can it be reframed? Not, I think, with "sabotage the bomb" as the final puzzle. If the winning outcome is our world, the bomb must go off as planned. Perhaps the player discovers some deeper threat -- aliens? time police? paradox itself? -- and must divert, at the last moment, from sabotaging Trinity to defeating this enemy.

"Paradox itself" is a tidy way to frame the threat: the bomb must go off, or history evaporates in a puff of logic! Except that this really falls back under the "immutable Laws of Time" scenario we covered earlier. It comes off as a cheat.

No, we need an enemy that the player will feel good about defeating. Aliens are too out-of-the-blue. Nazis are too Godwin (even in a WW2 game scene). Time travellers could work; a faction from the collapsing Soviet Union, perhaps. (Science fictional in 1986!) Say they pose an extreme threat -- say, a plan to change the outcome of the war, followed by a joint Nazi-Soviet hegemony of the world?

This would have to be developed at some length, and again, it's unclear whether Infocom had the resources to pull off a solid alternate history. But it's the option I'd try. If, you know, I knew anything about history.

February Link Assortment

Feb. 28th, 2015 05:14 pm
[syndicated profile] emilyshort_if_feed

Posted by Emily Short

The classic IF magazine SPAG has been, for most of the years since the mid-90s, a source of IF interviews, reviews, and news. The last couple of years it has been on a bit of a hiatus, but it is now under the management of a new editor, Katherine Morayati, and is once again soliciting content. Details are here, and you should get in touch if you have something you’d like to contribute.

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In addition to this resurrection of an old classic, the IF scene has also seen the appearance of an all new IF-focused zine, IFography. The first issue features an interview with Geoff Moore, author of Surface and Witch’s Girl, together with some reviews and essays.

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This is not a new piece, but I just ran across it: Autumn Nicole Bradley’s review of Hanako Games’ Magical Diary covers the game’s pro-adolescent worldview in considerable detail — a view that respects the autonomy and intelligence of young people and treats their decisions as non-failures. Worth a read. It is an article from ZEAL magazine, a Patreon-supported project that focuses on covering less-known games.

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Holly Gramazio has written a poem about game design and bees. My favorite verse:

When designing an FPS for a team of bees,
Make sure that the drones feel valued.
Provide a sniper role for them to fulfil,
Waiting and watching,
Honing their hive-born abilities.

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Maddy Myers writes on the emptiness of video game romance, and the difficulty in believing that the NPCs exist when she’s not interacting with them:

Usually, in Bioware games, their trust towards you is built upon them asking you to do them a big favor (rescuing a dangerous artifact, saving their hometown, blah blah)—this is not only a transactional approach to relationships, but also, a theatrical and unrealistic way to expect people to interact.

Overall, the piece gets at some of the same issues raised in Creatures Such as We.

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Kotaku ran an exchange of letters about representation of blackness in video games, by several black devs, journalists and critics. I especially appreciate Austin Walker’s point about non-black authors needing to make sure they’re researching their black characters and communities using materials that themselves present a variety of black experiences. And several of the contributors recommend specific books and TV shows about that might help with that.

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New Stories Retreat is a weekend-long retreat in May, in Olympia WA, for interactive story creators of various kinds — LARPers, tabletop RPG creators, and game designers — and organized by Avery McDaldno, creator of Monsterhearts and some of my other favorite tabletop storygames. This sounds pretty cool to me. (Canceled, alas — see comments.)

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ParserComp, a competition for parser-based games only, is running now through the end of March 14. You can find the games as well as criteria for judging at the ParserComp site.

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AdventureJam is a forthcoming 14-day game jam for adventure games. IF and text adventures are explicitly welcome, as are more graphical variants.


Thermo-Sudoku by Thomas Snyder

Feb. 28th, 2015 05:00 pm
[syndicated profile] grand_master_puzzles_feed

Posted by drsudoku

Thermo-Sudoku by Thomas Snyder

PDF

Theme: Self-Titled

Author/Opus: This is the 222nd puzzle from Thomas Snyder, aka Dr. Sudoku.

Rules: Standard Thermo-Sudoku rules.

Answer String: Enter the 8th row from left to right, followed by a comma, followed by the 3rd column from top to bottom.

Time Standards (highlight to view): Grandmaster = 9:45, Master = 12:45, Expert = 25:30

Note: Follow this link for more Thermo-Sudoku puzzles. If you are new to this puzzle type, here are our easiest Thermo-Sudoku to get started on.

The post Thermo-Sudoku by Thomas Snyder appeared first on The Art of Puzzles.

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[personal profile] katie_m posting in [community profile] vividcon
12 noon EST. Yay Vividcon!

tiiiired

Feb. 28th, 2015 09:31 am
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[personal profile] antimony
It's 9:30am on a weekend, and I've been up for a while -- mainly because I managed to go to bed at 10pm last night.

This seems like, without context, a good thing; sleep is good! Not getting my schedule too far off weekday-normal on a weekend is also good! But the reason is that I'm just exhausted, mostly due to the T. My 2-hour commute (each way) was already kind of dragging on me; usually it's fine, but right now I sort of want to have that time back. And then it started being ~3 hours a lot of the time.

So, so tired of it. I want to have time to spend at home with [livejournal.com profile] dphilli1 before he heads up to bed (and not resent that he's enough of a morning person that he's getting up even earlier for a non-lengthy commute). I want to be able to cook dinner at home occasionally on weeknights. Blah.

I'm not actually going to do anything about it, except wait for spring when I can at least bike a significant amount of the time, which doesn't make it any faster, but does make it do double-duty.

ETA: and I think the snow may have killed all my bushes along the front of the front yard. Now, not being sick, I went out to try to unbury them, but if I dig down to where they are, the shovel just crumbles them. :(

(no subject)

Feb. 27th, 2015 11:30 pm
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[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
If you're seeing slow page load times, pages not fully loading, missing icons, 'naked' pages (the text of the page only, without any styling, etc): please shift-refresh your browser, clear your browser cache, and then just hang tight. We're switching CDN providers, so your browser may have cached the wrong copy of things.

If the problem hasn't cleared up by tomorrow, then let us know and we'll look into it further!

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