Monday, January 23, 2017


We were all watching New Girl and a commercial for The Space Between Us came on. I fast-forwarded through it to get back to the show.

We see all kinds of things in fast-forward mode only.

"What was that?" Eli 15.5 asked.

"Science fiction movie," I said.

"It looks interesting," he said. "What's it about?"

"I think it's a romance," I said. "Maybe alien, maybe human."


"Plus I think there may be dogs with laser eyes. For the action fans."

"Are you making that up?" he asked.

"Absolutely not maybe," I said.

"What genre would that be?" Gloria asked.

"Sci-Rom," I said.

"What is that?" Eli asked.

"You know, like romantic comedies are 'rom-coms'," Gloria said.

"Wait," I said. "This would be a 'rom-sci', then," I said.

"What about 'Romantify'?" Eli asked.

"That's already an actual product," I said. "An essential love oil. Available in only the finest bathroom vending machines."

That's a Lot of Cookies

My favorite mom on Eli 15.5s team is at every practice. I sit with her husband during games. They are both funny and calm.

They also almost never curse.

Last night, her niece called to sell her some Girl Scout Cookies. She ordered a box, then two more, then kept adding them as the conversation went on.

Finally, after she committed to six boxes, she hung up the phone. "I'm going to be up to my ASS in Girl Scout Cookies," she said.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Links!

This is an extremely interesting geopolitical article sent in by C. Lee: Conquering chaos: Why states fail and how to rebuild them. Also, and this is entirely fantastic: Why would someone spend five years retranslating all of Final Fantasy 7?

From Allen Varney, and this is a terrific read: Michael Joyce’s Second Act: In 1996, David Foster Wallace profiled tennis player Michael Joyce in one of the most celebrated pieces of sports writing ever published. Who has he become since?

From Michael Gilbert, the story of a fascinating fellow (and very strong music): William Onyeabor, Nigerian funk music pioneer, RIP. Also, and this is such a great read, it's THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF HOW THE HUYGENS MISSION TO TITAN SUCCEEDED WHEN IT COULD HAVE FAILED.

From Frank Regan, and this is very clever: Dominoes with bricks. This next link is one of the single most incredible things I've ever seen a human being do, and he does it to save his kids: 1 Dad Reflex 2 Children.

From Steven Davis, and this is entirely fantastic:  Animation Resources. This next story is incredible: The toy-inspired Paperfuge, an innovative new tool in healthcare. This looks like a terrific film to see: Silbo Gomero: The Dying Language of Whistling. This absolutely amazed me: The Amish Horse-Drawn Buggy Is More Tech-Forward Than You Think. This is stunning sculpting video: Guy Reid, Making Andrew.

From Wally, and I bet you didn't know this: DID YIDU KNOW FATHER: Years before William Christopher starred on M*A*S*H, he answered the letters children wrote to Lionel. Here's an excellent Tumblr: 70s Sci-Fi Art. One of the greatest badminton rallies I've ever seen: Insane Badminton Rally. This is both awesome and hilarious: Hip 1960s Latin Teacher Translated Beatles Songs into Latin for His Students: Read Lyrics for “O Teneum Manum,” “Diei Duri Nox” & More.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Longshot

There was a game released on Steam this week called She Remembered Caterpillars.

It has a bit of a resume:
IGF 2017 Finalist
IGF 2017 Nominee for Excellence in Visual Art
IGF 2017 Honorable Mention for Excellence in Design
Best Puzzle Game (Intel Level Up Dev Contest 2016)

Three nice posts over at RPS.

I bought it.

It's a charming game, not great, but very satisfying, and very relaxing to play. It's quite lovely, too. Overall, a very happy time waster.

Here's the thing, though. The game was released on January 17. How many other games were released on Steam that same day?


The highest number of concurrent players for She Remembered Caterpillas since launch was seventeen.

Seventeen players.

So the devs spent a couple of years on this game, sunk who knows how much money into the project, did a very solid job, and their reward is sales that will probably be in the 500 range.

It's just brutal.

I don't know how you sidestep the basic issue, which is so many games being released that no one can sort the good ones out from the messes. Plus, these guys did get some attention. They did very well at IGF, and RPS covered them. For a small game, that's fairly solid.

I would really, really like to have game development as a second career, and I know I can make games, but man, it seems almost impossible to actually sell them these days.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Sorry, the day went to hell in a handbasket, so I'm not writing anything today.

Although, as I wrote that, I wondered about the origin of the phrase "going to hell in a handbasket", so here's a little something after all:
One theory on the origin of the phrase is that derives from the use of handbaskets in the guillotining method of capital punishment...

The first version of 'in a handbasket' in print does in fact relate to an imaginary decapitated head. In Samuel Sewall's Diary, 1714, we find:

"A committee brought in something about Piscataqua. Govr said he would give his head in a Handbasket as soon as he would pass it."

Sewall was born in England but emigrated to America when he was nine, and this citation reinforces the widely held opinion that the phrase is of US origin. That is almost certainly the case and, even now, 'hell in a handbasket' isn't often used outside the USA. 

More here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


The Oregonian is reporting at least three Oregon Ducks football players are in the hospital following a series of “grueling strength and conditioning workouts” last week at the university. Multiple sources told the paper that players had to finish the same workout this week, with one witness saying it included up to an hour of continuous push-ups and up-downs.

Up to an hour of continuous push-ups and up-downs.

If you don't know what an up-down is, just watch this (it's a stupid commercial, but you can see how it's done).

Let me be clear: this is criminal.

This is not conditioning. Football is a an anaerobic sport, consisting of plays that rarely last longer than 10 seconds. Continuous conditioning for an hour is not only conducive to performance on the football field, it's actually counter-productive.

This isn't about football. It's from the same mentality that beating your children "builds character." It's not character building.

It's abuse.

How long are we going to let this happen? Why do we put men in positions of authority who use that authority in sadistic ways? More importantly, why doesn't anyone stop them?

Don't think this is a big deal? Read this:
Poutasi’s mother, Oloka, said that her son complained of very sore arms after the workouts and had been diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a syndrome in which soft muscle tissue is broken down with “leakage into the blood stream of muscle contents,” according to the NCAA medical handbook. Depending on the severity, it has the potential to lead to damaged kidneys.

This isn't a one-day stay in the hospital for some lump who's fat and out of shape. It's highly-conditioned athletes winding up in the hospital for up to a week or longer, with potentially permanent damage, because an individual has grossly misused his authority.

Like I said, this should be criminal.

Plus, this coach is 100% incompetent. That's an idiotic way to train. So he should be fired, too.

None of this will happen, of course. They'll circle the wagons and say he's a man of such high character, and they'll trot out of some football players under duress who will say he's the best trainer they ever had.

It's sickening, and almost no one seems to care.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Dear Chicago

Portillo's is entirely fantastic. Thank you.


Remember the work/gaming laptop I sent back because it was locking up when I started using it?

I ordered through Amazon from EXCaliberPC, and they were great. Took the laptop back with no objections, and refunded my purchase price as well as the shipping charge. Can't say enough nice things about them.

The weekend, unfortunately, was shitty. Eli 15.5 had league playoffs in Chicago, and even though his team finished the regular season 4th out of 23 teams, they were put in a pool with the best team in the league.

That team is playing in the finals tonight.

Eli's team went 1-3, including a very tight 3-1 loss (Eli gave up a goal when the puck was under his pads, trapped, and a kid shoved him into the net). They also lost 4-3 today (not Eli's game) when the other team tied the game 3-3 with .7 seconds left in regulation, then won the shootout.

Yeah, pretty awful.

I have a story about the trip, but I am 100% exhausted and won't be writing it tonight.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday Links!

From C. Lee, and this is quite embarrassing: Crew Member Pushes Wrong Button, Loses Nearly $5 Million in Weapons. This is almost as crazy as some of the stuff Eli 15.5 and I are doing: HOW TO BUILD A CANNON THAT SHOOTS WIFFLE BALLS AT 50MPH [VIDEO].

From Steven Davis, and this is absolutely fascinating: WHY DALMATIANS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH FIRE FIGHTERS. Next, and this is amazing, it's How do the blind cook?

From Steven Kreuch, and this is both beautiful and somewhat unnerving: GoPro Awards : Frozen Lake Free Dive.

This is an important article, and a thorough piece of journalism, but I warn you that it is a very, very difficult read: The Crimes of Seal Team 6.

This will make you feel better; a wonderful article sent in by Nate Carpenter: R.E.M.’s Peter Buck needed a new label. The one he chose won’t take your credit card.

From Wally, and this is an interesting read: Patriot Naval Exploits. This next link was sent in with a "Doesn't everyone" comment: Man uses unicycle to get to work on snowy roads.

From Les Bowman, and I will be watching this as soon a possible--the Amiga 500 is still my favorite computer ever: People still use the Amiga today, and new Viva Amiga documentary shows why.

From Jesse Leimkuehler, and these images are just spectacular: Your Home Planet, as Seen From Mars.

From Steven Davis, and this is fascinating (attention: DQ Film Advisor and Nicest Guy In The World Ben Ormand): Walt Disney's MultiPlane Camera (Filmed: Feb. 13, 1957). Next, and this seems both like a good game and quite bizarre, it's Mongolian knuckle-bone shooting. This is quite amazing: Heirloom Tech: The Inlaid Micro Geometries of Khatam.

Finally, and this a long and utterly fantastic article about one of my favorite games ever (thanks C. Lee): Final Fantasy 7: An oral history.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

We Have Photographic Evidence

Get out of the house! It's in the house!


I know, what a surprise.

Whenever I work on a game, I find myself playing other games much less, because I always feel a nag to get mine done.

However, I saw a few things today, and one in particular, that put a big smile on my face.

I've written about Lego City Undercover before, when it was released on Wii U. The entire game is tremendously funny, and there's a very good game underneath all the silliness. It's one of my favorite open-world games of all time, and I saw today that it's being released for XBOne, PS4, and PC this spring.

Oh, and it's also coming out for the Nintendo Switch.

Undercover didn't get anywhere near the audience it deserved, because the Wii U just never made it as a platform, so if you didn't play it the first time, it's a must-play now. Plus, they've added a cooperative mode as well for this version.

Here's a trailer: 

Next is The Guild 3.

The Guild was a janky, broken game that was never finished.

The Guild II was a jankier, more broken game that was never finished.

I'm quite confident in saying that The Guild 3 (this spring) will be a janky, broken game. And yet, I'm still buying it on day one, because how many games are like this?
Europe in the year 1400: The dark middle ages, once dominated by nobles and the clergy, came to an end and a new era begins: the age of free, prospering cities, trading and an open mind-set!

One of the goals in the The Guild series is to create a family dynasty which can last for centuries. While the world around you and your dynasty rearranges itself time and time again – all non-player characters (NPCs) make their own decisions –, you have to prove your skills in artisan craftwork and trading, participate in social occasions and perfect your political schemes and malicious intrigues.

Both of the previous Guild games, while broken, were extraordinarily interesting in their best moments, and had a large degree of charm.

Go ahead, Lucy. I'll kick the football.

This morning, I saw Urban Empire. Here's a description:
Urban Empire is a ‘City Ruler’, pioneering a new breed of strategy game that combines city builder features with political scheming and adds profound social and historical events into the mix, creating a whole new gameplay experience.

Okay, I'll bite. Wait, here's more:
In Urban Empire you take control of a mayoral dynasty and lead your city and people through 200 years of history. Establish infrastructures, plan city districts, debate political decisions at the town council, bribe or blackmail your opponents, empower the democratic rights of your people or ignore them and reign supremely by yourself – the decision is yours!

Beginning in the 1820s, establish your city through five different eras, each with its own threats and opportunities. Master the challenges of the centuries, face political struggles, experience world-changing events and pioneering inventions, and create your own unique Urban Empire!

Hmm, this sounds vaguely like--The Guild. I guess I know what kind of game I'm looking for now.

An Exchange

Today's weather in Winnipeg:
-40F wind chill
Highways closed

Today's email from DQ VB.NET Advisor and Renaissance Genius Garret Rempel:
Don't you hate it when your electrical sockets frost over?

I replied:
Winnipeg: where the weather is a slasher movie.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Previously Unreported Holiday Story

We live in an idyllic little town, where things like this happen.

"Someone has installed candle sacks in our yard," I said to Gloria on the phone.

"Oh, I forgot to tell you about that," she said. "Also, the rest of the world calls them 'luminarias'," she said.

"Semantics," I said, inaccurately. "What do you know about this yard invasion?"

"There was a neighborhood committee asking for volunteers to put them up for the night," she said.

"What next?" I asked. "Underground missile silos? Will we have to feed the technicians? Who has the codes?"

"They come by and take them down tomorrow," she said.

"Okay, never mind," I said.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fighting Eleven #14: The Model

I've been hoping for weeks that analyzing a recruiting database of the last ten years of recruits would enable me to formulize the process.


All recruiting, as has been said about politics, is local. What is the quality of your program? How many recruits do you have in your state, and how many in adjoining states?

So, after research that was extremely interesting, but not fruitful in regards to my original intentions, I realized I was just going to have to use brute force.

In the recruiting model, there are three "rings": in-state, adjoining states, and outside. To decide where a recruit comes from, here is the procedure:
1. Load current rank of the recruiting program.
2. Determine whether recruit is 5,4,3, or 2 stars, based on program rank (dice roll heavily influenced by program rank).
3. Load home state of the recruiting program.
4. Determine whether recruit is from program home state, adjoining state, or outside (dice roll based on actual school recruiting history for that recruit star rank for last five years).
5. State determination:
--home state
--for adjoining state, identify adjoining states, then determine state (dice roll based on actual school recruiting history for last five years for that recruit star rank).
--for outside, based on total pool of available recruits for that star level outside home/adjoining states of program (dice roll not influenced by school recruiting history).
6. After recruit home state is identified, load available locations in that state for recruits based on recruit star level (all locations from recruits in the last five years).
7. Determine home city for recruit (dice roll based on available locations).

All the user is going to see is a city and a state on the recruit card.

It seems so simple, but doing it right (for me, anyway) requires thousands of lines of codes and a huge Excel spreadsheet with all the recruiting data to set all kinds of things like adjoining state percentages.

My primary concern at this point is now how many lines of code it takes (an embarrassing amount), but that I write the code in such a way that it's easy to debug. As long as code is easy to debug, I don't care how long it is, but I don't want code that I can't troubleshoot easily.

Fredrik doesn't even know this yet, but when I get all this working, I think I'm going to ask him to do most of the art for this module, instead of waiting until all modules are finished. That way, when I ask people to help me test this portion, they're going to be seeing art that's well along in the process. Testing code with placeholder graphics is just not as much fun, and I want people to have fun. So each module is going to be fairly well-polished as the code is completed.

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