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Topics - Leng

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Everything Else / Youtube Art
« on: October 02, 2006, 01:25:37 am »

Everything Else / Really REALLY Dumb Questions
« on: August 30, 2006, 07:27:51 pm »
As in the other thread, but these are the really dumb ones..

First up, was the Moon Landing a FAKE?!!?

Everything Else / AIDS: Death by Design
« on: August 15, 2006, 12:08:16 am »

' “De-population should be the highest priority of US foreign policy towards the Third World.”  This sentence formed the hard backbone of NSSM 200.  The memo went on to state that “Reduction of the rate of population in these States [Third World nations] is a matter of vital US national security.”  Why?  Simply because “The US economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries.”  In stating this the focus was exclusively, on the "…economic interests of the US." '

' In giving testimony to the Senate committee, Dr. Donald MacArthur, a US Army biological warfare expert, stated: “Within the next 5 to 10 years, it would probably be possible to make a new infective micro-organism which could differ in certain important aspects from any known disease-causing organisms ... Most important of these is that it might be refractory to the immunological and therapeutic processes upon which we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious diseases.” '

' AIDS in America traces back to hepatitis B experiments that were performed on thousands of gay volunteers between the years 1978-1981. The experiment began in Manhattan in November, 1978, when over 1,000 homosexuals and bisexuals were injected with the experimental vaccine ... Three months after the experiment began at the New York City Blood Center, the first AIDS case was discovered in a young white Manhattan gay. Beginning in March, 1980, similar vaccine experiments took place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, St. Louis, Denver, and Chicago. In the fall of 1980, the first AIDS case was reported in a young, white, San Francisco gay man. '

' The National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences ... in February 1993 said, "Despite thousands of deaths and an aura of national health emergency, the AIDS epidemic will have little impact on the lives of most Americans or the way society functions" because AIDS is concentrated "among socially marginalized groups who have little economic, political and social power." '

' The genes of the AIDS virus exist in two other viruses called retroviruses of cattle and sheep. One of them is named bovine leukemia virus of cattle, which is a T-cell leukemia producing agent, just like Clemenson was talking about. The other is visna virus, a brain-rotting virus of sheep, that has managed to infect about 75% of the sheep on the western ranges of the United States and the rest of the world. '

' There is ... more out there besides AIDS.  There is an infectious T-cell leukemia virus named HTLV-1 which is human T-cell leukemia virus 1 ... This virus has managed to infect 20-30% of southern Japan already ... I can tell you this, that short of a cure for these diseases, in about another 10 years or so, the entire population of Japan will suddenly get leukemia and die, short of there being a cure for this problem, because this disease will spread in that group of people due to their density of population. The same thing will occur in China, Taipei, India and the rest of the Asiatic countries. '

' The virus ... inserts itself into your genetic material and then interacts with the genetic material ... that fact made it perfect for introducing genes into species ... They had been looking for a mechanism ... to manipulate to genetic materials. '

we are now beginning a dnd campaign at gamingsteve.  since nobody else wanted the job, i got stuck with being GM.  lucky me. 

current members:
Leng (GM)

EDIT: No additional players are required at the moment.  you snoozed, you loosed.

The first session will begin on sunday, at GMT 6 pm (1800), or EST 1 pm (1300).  Glacies will need to fix his stats and Hydro will need to choose one of his two characters.  the group will *ahem* need to decide on a starting location (not that it matters much to the story, but you need to start somewhere).

EDIT2: we're doing this over IRC.  for the IRC illiterate, here is a helpful guide:
1. dl this:
2. let it self-install
3. enter irc via start menu
4. you will see a subwindow labeled "IRC options", there will be a button labeled "connect to server", DO NOT click it, click the sun button next to it.
5. click add
6. enter "" in the "IRC Server" text box, "6667" in the "port" text box, and whatever you want in the "description" text box
7. now click connect to server
8. you will be prompted for channels, type "#gamingsteve"
9. enjoy

that might have sounded complicated, but these are step-by-step instructions and it's really not that complicated when you actually do it.

EDIT3: i will remind people once again to NOT NOT NOT post their alignment.

Forum Games / The Best Plays
« on: July 21, 2006, 11:26:19 am »
i thought it would be fun if we would post out favorite plays in the forumgames section.  you can post your:

Favorite Corrupt Wish Granting
Favorite Banning
Favorite Psychic Post
Favorite One Word Story Story
Favorite Random Question for a Random Answer
Favorite Would You Rather...
Favorite Double
or something else..

Through your games, you come across as a guy who's trying to decipher the natural world bit by bit, through computer simulations.

That's not far off.  When I was a kid, I liked taking things apart to see how they worked.  Computer simulation is similar, it's reductionist; you've got these parts, you want to see how they interact, so you build a model and compare it to the real world.  When you formulate a model, you quickly see your misconceptions.  That's the value of simulation in science, to spotlight our ignorance.

Modeling is one of the things that led to an understanding of chaos theory.  Back in the 1960s, Dennis and Donella Meadows, a husband and wife team, tried to model the world in terms of things like population, food production, standard of living, and so on to get some sense of where the world was going.  When they ran their model, it basically showed the whole world population crashing - quickly, by 1985, according to them.  Of course, that didn't come true.  Looking back, it became clear that just a couple of variables were off by a few percent and got very amplified.  The scientists didn't foresee the green revolution in agriculture - the use of fertilizers and pesticides.  So their food production numbers were just a bit low, but it compounded year after year.  One little thing off a little bit can have a huge impact on the eventual destination.


What were you doing at age 10 that steered you toward game design?

Building a lot of models - plastic, wood, whatever.  That evolved into making things with motors, and that evolved into robots.  Robots got me into computers.  One of my favorite robots was one called Mr. Rogers.  I built it when I was about 20.  It had three wheels and an ultrasonic sensor for mapping the room and was attached to an Apple II.  I still love robots; it's kind of a background hobby.  My daughter, Cassidy - she's 19, she's in art school - was doing Robot Wars and Battle Bots with me for many years.

Spore takes its cue from astrobiology, both in its spatial sweep - from microbiology to galaxies - and in the interplanetary spread of life.  What turned you on to the subject?

Well, I've always had an interest in the SETI program, which led me to astrobiology and to Drake's equation.  Drake's equation is simple.  Basically, you take the average number of stars in the galaxy and you ask what percentage have habitable planets.  Then you ask what percentage of those couple of planets does life arise on?  And on what percentage of those is the life intelligent?  What's the average life span of that civilization?  You crunch all those numbers together and get one that tells you how many intelligent species are out thee asking themselves the same question.  For some reason, most of these models have left out panspermia <the theory that life may have originated elsewhere in the cosmos>; I love to think panspermia's gotten short shrift.  Anyway, all the factors lead back to how unique we are.  Stars and galaxies are complex and interesting, but they're still nowhere near as complex as life.

One thing that interests me is that all the factors in Drake's equation map to different size scales.  It's almost like an index into science at different scales: chemistry, biology, sociology.  As humans, we're stuck at the scale of our bodies, but there are all these different levels above and below us; each one has its own dynamics, its own processes, its own timescale.  I've always been intrigued by Charles and Ray Eames's Powers of Ten book and movie.  They really tried to give an overall sense of where we are in the universe, to give some perspective on the history of life.  That awareness can make you feel insignificant.  But in some sense, it's also the reverse.  If we're the only life around, what an incredible responsibility!  It's humbling and deeply empowering at the same time.

So Spore is an existential game?

One of my original goals was to give players the equivalent of a drug-induced epiphany.  I've been surprised, given Spore's epic scale, that it has such broad appeal - that the average person finds some meaning in it.  Of course, ever player finds a different meaning: how big the universe is, or the existence of different time scales, or how precious life is.  The important thing is getting people to step back and enjoy the view.

The Spore universe plays like a planetarium show; you've clearly worked hard to model orbital and galactic motions accurately.

You should see all the stuff that's not in the game!  We did a huge number of prototypes, modeling almost anything you can imagine, from autocatalytic chemistry to the dynamics of interstellar gases.  For a brief while, we considered making gas giants playable, but not having a solid surface makes game play difficult.

I'm told you collect artifacts from the Russian space program.
I've always had a fascination with it.  I'm impressed by their approach and the success they had compared to NASA.  And they've done it at one fifth the cost.  These days you have to hire the Russians to get you into space, not NASA.  I like to collect their stuff, take it apart, see how it works.  It's incredibly durable, and cheap.  I've got control panels from the Mir space station and the complete interior of a Soyuz spacecraft.  I'm going to Russia next week, actually, to Star City and some other places.  A lot of the coolest stuff is down in the basements of these aerospace corporations.  I'm going with several friends; it's sort of a space junket.

Would you ever go up in space?

Oh, sure, I'd do it under the right circumstances.  But not $20 million to fly in the Soyuz.

Do you play computer games besides the one you design?

Oh, yeah.  I spend maybe five hours a week playing games.  On the PC I still play Battlefield 2 and Advance wars on my old Game Boy.  Lately I've been into Guitar Hero.  It's a game for Play Station 2 that comes with a guitar controller, which has buttons on its frets instead of strings.  You try to play along to real rock songs, and there's this whole little audience on-screen that'll boo you off stage if you stink.  When you get it right, it's real satisfying.

What makes a game compelling to you?

In the kinds of games I focus on, I'm interested in amplifying the player's natural abilities.  I want a player to feel surprised, "Wow, I made this thing!"  Then, because you feel ownership over it, you start feeling things like pride - or even guilt if you run the situation badly.  People talk about how games don't have the emotional impact of movies.  I think they do - they just have a different palette.  I never felt pride, or guilt, watching a movie.

A lot of what makes things fun generally is people challenging themselves, learning new patterns.  You're building a model in your head that will help you predict what the system's going to do and enable you to perform in that system more accurately.  That's why kids play, I think.  From a very early age, that's how we relate to the world.  We look for patterns, we poke and prod: if I do this, what happens?  That's how we learn causality.

So games are fun because they allow us to play with time?

Partly.  You can think of games almost as time machines.  They allow us to explore the possibility space around a given starting point.  You can hit Start Over and do the Groundhog Day thing: relive the same day and try doing this, replay the same day and try doing that.  You can control time in a way that you can never do in real life and get a sense of how chaotic a system can be.

Storytelling is the same way.  Say I'm a caveman and I almost get killed by a tiger.  I can come tell you that I left my cave and a tiger almost got me.  I'm sharing an experience and can now influence your behavior.  Next time you leave the cave, you'll look out for the tiger.  That's a time machine for experience - lessons we might learn.

You've collected and analyzed thousands of hours of data gathered from people who play The Sims online.  To what extent is playing The Sims a behavioral experiment?

It's an interesting kind of Rorschach test.  The way in which people play the game says a lot about their personal interests and creativity.  Some focus on giving their sims skills, climbing the career ladder, building McMansions.  Others focus on romance or building a family.  Others are into creating a cast of characters and saving it on the web; for them The Sims is more like a set of actors and sets with which to tell stories.  It's up to you to decide how you want to make your sim happy.  SimCity is like that as well.  We don't tell you that you have to build a big city, or a happy city, or a clean city; people come up with their own goal state that has a lot to do with their own value system.  The game almost asks them, "Ok, what do you think a good city is?  Or a good life?"

In spore, a player can animate any creaure imaginable; for a fee, it can be made into a three-dimensional reality.

You've modeled planetary dynamics, ant colonies, even the way players play your games.  What's left?

Do you know about fitness landscapes?  It's the idea that you can map evolutionary fitness.  If you were this genetic combination, you would be this fit.  If you were that genetic combination, you would be that fit.  Any given population is basically climbing a fitness landscape.  It's cross-correlated: the shape of the landscape is dependant on what all of the organisms are doing, so even as an organism evolves, the landscape is always changing.

I did some modeling of this - fairly long-term models of creatures evolving on different landscapes.  Interestingly, the results I got were very similar to punctuated equilibrium <an evolutionary theory championed by Niles Eldridge and Stephen Jay Gould>.  You'd see regions of stability for long periods of time, then diversity would go up, then suddenly the whole system would go into chaos, you'd have this mass die-off, and then it would go back up pretty rapidly.

You're doing this for fun?  That's what you do on the weekend?

Yeah, pretty much just for fun.  I get really into biology.  I find it more and more fascinating, especially macroevolutionary stuff.  Actually, I think the idea of evolution is one that a lot of people have a hard time wrapping their minds around.  They think, oh, you've got this one mutation and then the creature is a little bit better at seeing, therefore it survives.  But, in fact, it's much more of a numbers game: you have thousands of creatures that have a slightly better chance of seeing, and statistically they survive 1 percent better.  People aren't used to dealing with the numbers and the timescales involved.  But once you look at it from that point of view, evolution just seems so much more plausible.  It makes perfect sense.

In Wikipedia, Spore is described as a "Teleological Evolution" game.  Do you think the game will bring natural selection to the masses?

You can look at it in a number of different ways.  What's ironic, really, is it's intelligent design.  As a player, you go through an arc of being this lowly little cell, being attacked by pond scum, to eventually becoming a god.  At the godlike level, you can almost do the whole creationist thing if you want.  "I will create a planet; I will create species; I will put them on the planet."  But you're a God without a whole lot of foresight.  You put all this stuff on a planet, and it might go kerflooey.  You might make a really badly balanced ecosystem.  You're not necessarily an omnipotent god.  That's even more fun.  You have these godlike powers, yet the repercussions of them become totally unpredictable to you.

If you could rebuild earth in any way - add or subtract any creature or process, for instance - what would you do?

What's my starting point, the Paleolithic?

Now, whenever, any time you want.  The world is your oyster.

Hmmm.  Well, the development of life was amazing and maybe incredibly improbable, so I wouldn't want to mess that up.  The development of intelligence was possibly even more improbable; I wouldn't want to modify anything until that happens either.  Even then.. I wouldn't want to touch it, actually.  If I started now, maybe I'd do something to increase the odds of humans surviving on earth.  But maybe not!  Can I give you James Lovelock's answer?  I'd probably eliminate cattle entirely.  They're the earth's second-largest producers of methane, which is a serious greenhouse gas.  The clearing of rain forests is done mainly to accommodate livestock, so getting rid of cattle would help protect biodiversity.

EDIT: To clarify, Syphonbyte wanted to create a place where interesting quotes from the gamingsteve chatroom could be posted.  Apparently some things got posted he didn't want his good name to be associated with, and so I offered to make this new thread.  Syphonbyte is not in any way responsible for the content of this thread, and for that matter, neither am I.  Whatever you post here is your own damn business and any shame belongs solely to you.

762: Anyway, this street performer was riding a 6 foot tall unicycle
And he was juggling
At the same time
And the objects he was juggling were an apple, a juggling pin, and a machete

Kratok: pansy
should have been all machetes
on fire

762: Well, he ate the apple while juggling

Kratok: but did he eat a flaming machete?
or even a non-flaming one?

762: And made lewd sexual references while doing it

Kratok: did he have sex with your girlfriend though?

Everything Else / the robots have taken me! please send help!!
« on: February 06, 2006, 08:27:15 pm »
aren't you listening???

PC Games / Kohan
« on: January 29, 2006, 08:57:18 am »
Ever played this?  right now i'm going through the first campaign in Ahriman's Gift, and i have to say the AI is brutal.  it can be stupid at times, but it will often use clever tactics, and never simply plays dead to let you build up.  the game forces you to consider morale, terrain, maneuver, formation - all within the context of low-tech warfare.  it's interesting how fantasy cliches are translated into real tactical elements.  for example the skeletons take almost no damage from ranged attacks, so you use them against archers, while the shadow-knights have vorpal weapons that ignore armor. 

Movies / Movies in theaters now
« on: January 20, 2006, 05:44:43 pm »
back after half a month, with love for all ;)

anyway, i've seen a lot of movies while away from the forum, so i thought i'd start a thread for talking about all of them.

they are:

Chronicles of Narnia

Fun with Dick & Jane


Memoirs of a Geisha

Wolf Creek


also King Kong, except there's already a thread about that, as well as a couple that just sucked

i figured we could use this thread to talk about any movie that just came out.

Everything Else / Conspiracy!!
« on: December 16, 2005, 03:59:34 pm »
the poll has been removed.  once we have a good list going i'll create another thread.

for now, let's just talk about conspiracies.

edit: who's the wiseguy that voted on the blank poll?

Everything Else / What's your personality type?
« on: November 24, 2005, 10:16:20 am »

PC Games / starcraft movies
« on: October 25, 2005, 09:42:35 am »
like to play use map setting with starcraft?

i'm really taking a liking to the movie maps, where it's just one continuous cutscene.  most of them are crap, but there are a few gems that make hunting for them worthwhile.

so i came up with an idea for a grand project to... transcribe the entire text of hamlet into starcraft form.  wait, don't leave!  this is a big project, and i'd like to get a team together to code the monster.

Spore: General / "What is" the real origin of Spore?
« on: September 20, 2005, 06:39:51 am »
I think we've covered the aspect of survival and evolution rather well.  But what about the theme of intellectual cross-pollenation?  "What is" the the inspiration for such a model of viral creativity?  Indeed, "what is" the internet system which has been repeatedly cited on this forum, and yet the link never been made?

None other than "You're the Man Now Dog".

Perhaps an example will illustrate ytmnd's power best.  The first instance of a "what is love?" ytmnd site appeared as 24 April 2004.  It featured only a clip from the song and a picture of the singer.  ytmnd sites inspired by "whatlove" included "fux0r" (using the convention of, and "isthislove".  These early forms were rudamentary, and failed to develop a unique mutation which was passed on to offspring. 

Then there was "whatislove".  This possessed the innovation of displaying Chris Kattan as a Roxbury Guy bobbing his head to the music.  Other sites such as "love11" and "khandont" (crossbred with the ravenous KHAAAAAAAAAANbeast) followed the general theme of the Roxbury Guys, although simpler what-is-loveforms still predominated.  "Donthurtme" further steered evolution to the specific episode featuring Jim Carrey as a third Roxbury Guy.  For a long time this version appeared to be a deadend; it was a simple alteration of another theme, which produced no offspring of it's own.  In fact, the entire "what is love?" phylum appeared to have stagnated.  Then, in early june of 2005... there was "ckjcwf".

Ckjcwf had made the crucial step in it's evolution.  It had ceased to be merely a tapeloop of a song, and become an identity.  Ckjcwf inspired a cambrian explosion of other what-is-loveforms: "wilpsp", "whatislove-ring-girl", "whatissonic", "whatistiger", "jeopardywhatislove".  "Whatismetal" showed the ability to use other songs in place of What is Love, while keeping the Roxbury Car animation.  Although variations on earlier Roxbury types, and particularly the generic "whatlove" are still being created this day, it is likely that the majority of Whatislove types derive from ckjcwf.

Spore: General / Will there be Lag Monsters?
« on: September 05, 2005, 06:11:16 pm »
I'm thinking maybe if you could create something with 4000 arms each with 20 joints you might get lag.  It's a rather Lovecraftian concept.  A creature so alien it warps reality around it.  The processor power that has to be denied to other creatures might be a powerful weapon :D

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