OITNB 4

July 18th, 2016 by harold

First, I got screwed because it’s hard to stop the entire internet. So I knew.

The rest though. it hits close to home. It’s hard to see this in real life, it’s hard to see it again as entertainment like I immediately get mad and sad.

It’s not helping anything. I feel bamboozled. There’s no need for more light on black people’s unjustified suffering because the problem is not that people don’t know about it. It’s actually never been the issue. People always knew. It’s the acting, solving part where no one shows up.

I don’t really care about the show anymore. Still has the most captivating cast/character design I have ever seen, by far. Put them in a spaceship, a jungle, a cute neighborhood I’d watch the fuck outta that new show.

Parents

July 16th, 2016 by harold

(I wrote this months ago, just making adjustments to the new now)

Following my usual half hour on Skype with my parents on Sunday morning, I started to think about them when they got me. I mean, making the decision of adopting a child.

It’s wild.

Harold summer mountain
Everything is new and fancy at that time hence my face, dad looks like a young Popovich.

They couldn’t conceive a kid at that time. And I’m sure my dad wanted to do more than the basic thing of finding a white baby. He was like “fuck it if we can’t make our kid, let’s save one that really needs help.” That’s how I understand their decision to adopt a six year old black kid. I mean, that’s punk as fuck. Unless the reason was to secure a crib in paradise later, then it’s kind of lame but whatever.

Older foster kids do not having the best odds in life. Parentless and not a baby? Some would even say dude you’re so fucked. You’ll be sniffing glue by the age of 9.

So anyway. Very bold move from them that worked out pretty well for both of us, back then. In today’s France or US I would never think that this is a good idea. Between my parents and I it’s still a lot of pain and incomprehension and attempts to make it up for whatever etc. It is a very singular relationship and it was at a great time and place to make it happen. If I look back 80s Paris was one of the most open, richest culture ever seen on earth. Not kidding. There was a strong inclusiveness that disappeared now that everyone is back to heritage shit. Yes, it was fake like Benetton ads. But you fake it until you make it.

We didn’t make it and we’re not faking it anymore. Our recent failures to live in peace together, the fact that it only marginally gets better cut me really deep. My crumbling world got me like:

If I had one, I couldn’t imagine having to teach my kid about Sandra Bland, Alton and Philando, or Trump. Even less in the context of adopting a child different from myself. “so you see daddy is black and has to deal with some stuff you will never have to deal with unless you’re hanging out with me but then it will be very different and then it’s complicated”. Just thinking about the prospect of doing that makes my eyes turn like mini oceans. It’s so hard. The privilege of seeing extremely clearly how much we are not together at all, despite what the president says and what we say to ourselves. I have it.

I feel like my parents and I are humbly nurturing a mutual respect for our differences and that it’s pretty unique to us. They don’t do that with my sister they gave birth to. I don’t see that with other parents. It’s very fragile love and at the same time it’s graphene love.

Way Back When

I’m thankful. I try to do my best. I just want to love and make the shit the shit.

Pokémon GO

July 14th, 2016 by harold
Keirsey Temperament Bartle Type GNS Theory Problem-Solving Style Game example
Artisan Killer Experientialist Power GTA
Guardian Achiever Gamist Persistence Pokémon
Rational Explorer Simulationist Perception Half-life
Idealist Socializer Narrativist Persuasion WoW

Jesus the hype is on, init? Not even a week.

I summoned this old table from an old blog post because well, it’s still pretty good. I could make a better matrix adding Myers-Briggs indicators but you get the point.

So Pokémon is all about the guardian type which is according to Keirsey’s:

As Concrete Cooperators, Guardians speak mostly of their duties and responsibilities, of what they can keep an eye on and take good care of, and they’re careful to obey the laws, follow the rules, and respect the rights of others.

Wikipedia’s definition:

Guardians are concrete and organized (scheduled). Seeking security and belonging, they are concerned with responsibility and duty. Their greatest strength is logistics. They excel at organizing, facilitating, checking, and supporting.

Duties of training your little monsters, responsibilities of the gym, hatching eggs etc. It’s a type of gameplay that works for some people! A lot of people. Tons of kids. Of course! The problem solving style for guardians –persistence- is the one that requires the less skills making this barrier of entry a non-issue.

Personally the guardian type of play looks exactly like what we do for work so I’m not attracted to that. But it doesn’t matter if you’re 39 and you find that type of challenge fun and engaging. Don’t tell me that it’s great because people go out though: if you need a small screen to look around so that you walk around, from any angle this sounds sad to me because self-sufficiency and resilience are precious but hey, whatever.

Games are a matter of taste as much as any other entertainment. We live in the tyranny of the majority though so people feel like they have to play the game. You don’t have to, it’s not that deep even though virtual worlds have real life consequences. Let’s see how it goes in 6 months.

What do I like? I am into rational type of play, how surprising.

As Abstract Utilitarians, Rationals speak mostly of what new problems intrigue them and what new solutions they envision, and always pragmatic, they act as efficiently as possible to achieve their objectives, ignoring arbitrary rules and conventions if need be.

Wikipedia’s:

Rationals are abstract and objective. Seeking mastery and self-control, they are concerned with their own knowledge and competence. Their greatest strength is strategy. They excel in any kind of logical investigation such as engineering, conceptualizing, theorizing, and coordinating.

This so me. I always feel kind of guilty ignoring arbitrary rules but I really dislike them. I think I like to disregard them so that I can make up my own mind. Games based on that temperament are kind of rare to come by on mobile. It’s too demanding, in many ways. All good, only playing computer games at home isn’t a bad thing.

A lot of people get lost in this rational temperament (the “what do I do now?” feeling in first person exploration games for instance).

To Each His Own.

Dark Week

July 9th, 2016 by harold

I hadn’t cried like that in a long time.

I hadn’t felt that powerless in maybe forever.

There is no need for a billion dollar fund for police training to understand common sense that is to not kill a citizen when he’s cooperating. It’s basic. Keep your billion Hillary and please disappear.

There is no justice. I kept thinking of that murderer who got to get into a police car to get a last burger I mean you guys don’t even know how much pride and pain we have to swallow. There are nothing you can tell to make us feel better. Nothing.

The more I think and the more I want an off-the-grid, passive house not to be smart or feel fancy, but just to guarantee a life that will make sense. To be away from that bullshit, as much as possible.

Brexciting

July 2nd, 2016 by harold

It’s a good article on Brexit.

After the market-venerating radicalism of Reagan and Thatcher, he said, “the center left” — Blair and Clinton and various European parties — “managed to regain political office but failed to reimagine the mission and purpose of social democracy, which ­became empty and obsolete.”

French, slow ass, condescending and pointless 90s socialism definitely played a role in suffocating Europe’s institutions. But it’s bigger than that.

We as societies just can’t seem to make real stances and we pay for it.

The EU. The UK shouldn’t have been able to negotiate their position: you either go all in with us and you put the £ in the museum, or you don’t join the EU. Had they integrated the EU and be our equals, they wouldn’t have privatized their economy like crazy for the past 15 years, killing their own citizens’ QoL. And migrants wouldn’t try so hard to go over there, they would spread out in Western Europe. The UK with the € flavor probably would have added more dynamism and maybe a cog needed between France and Germany. I don’t know, something better than having one foot in and being weird.

We forgot that the EU wasn’t just signing papers and have a new fancy blue flag. We –mostly Boomers- have been lazy fucks.

Over four decades of immigration from Africa and Eastern Europe and the EU rings the alarm once people starve in Calais, once it’s too late. Decisions should have been made in the 80s or early 90s about immigration to have a chance to be controlled and dealt with in an efficient way. But it’s bigger than that.

Let’s face it: Europe adores the Universal Talk, how we’re All in This Together the We Invented Democracy. But Europe is the most colonialist area on earth! Just four of its countries have conquered the entire fucking world at a time when you couldn’t just fly with your army to Iraq. It transpires for centuries. Europeans are kind of proud of this past grip on the planet. Europe never really realized that it was going to drastically change with its post WWII immigration.

Let’s face it: if elites acknowledged mistakes and flaws and tried to fix them, they would not be considered elites anymore (not that I agree with that but that’s how things go, still). And those European elites have been clear with migrating African population: Yes we invaded you early 1900s, yes we fucked up your countries from that point on, no we won’t apologize and yes, if you don’t feel like you’re welcome here it’s because you’re not really! Nothing good could happen from that. It actually went pretty smooth for over 30 years thanks to economic growth. Now that it’s been stagnating for decades, people look at each other.

Let’s face it: the middle class used to be powerful enough to change institutions, to be smart enough to not go populist on election days. To fine tune democracy, to curve those elites’ obnoxious disregard. The problem is the middle class doesn’t exist anymore. The “middle” class is so dependent from elites that it shuts the fuck up. It’s a byproduct of global, super capitalism now.

Meanwhile people further down the economy ladder who are eating shit at an irrational rate are mad and ready to vote for whoever says the craziest shit because they’re pissed off, rightfully so.

The solution is always and has always been a more direct democracy. I mean at least we should try it. But no one has the incentive –the powerful- or the power –the powerless- to make it happen.

The opportunity is still there though. Damn we’re slow.

Free like language is free

June 30th, 2016 by harold

Did you read that article on Ev and Medium?

Ev Williams became a billionaire by helping to create the free and open web. Now, he’s betting against it.

The Atlantic writes a perfect definition of the open web:

the open web describes an internet where people mostly publish their writing (or music, or photos, or films) to servers that they own or rent, accessible via their own personal domain names, in formats that are themselves free or unrestricted. It is the web because the pages are written in HTML and CSS; it is open because anyone can access almost all of it, without special privileges, expenditures, or a user account. Above all, the open web is free—free like language is free, like consciousness is free. Freedom not so much as a right, but as a technical and inalienable fact.

It is the web we’re still trying to use between silos. OG web. But yeah it’s tedious to set up RSS, it’s tedious to manage favorites, it’s even more tedious to create the pipeline to publish (from installing local apps to connect to diverse sources and understand the concept of client/server).

But when I read this:

Medium seeks to replicate the web’s old, chaotic hubbub on a single, ordered site—because, ultimately, Ev values the chaos.

I’m like, this is bullshit. Sorry, this is pure antinomy. That makes no sense and I don’t want it. If you value the chaos, just leave it alone.

I understand WordPress is out of reach for non-tech people and I understand that Medium wants to be the FB of thoughts or whatever. We have to find something better. Another interesting quote though:

Railroad, electricity, cable, telephone—all followed this similar pattern toward closedness and monopoly, and government regulated or not, it tends to happen because of the power of network effects and the economies of scale

Keyword it tends to. Monopoly and closedness are fine when they don’t own shit but the pipes. Railroad companies didn’t own people’s suitcases. Medium does. Inside your brain will reside on their servers and we absolutely don’t have to. Monopolies tend to vastly abuse our collective asses, let’s not forget that.

Where closedness and more monopolies should happen is probably around hosting companies. It’s still the wild wild west and they don’t understand how to provide the next step of web services. I’ve been using a few in 16 years, they all are pretty terrible if not appalling. So here are a few ideas:

– The entire process of creating a personal website online space and being able to publish stuff on it should be as easy as signing up for a new phone line. One payment, One email, One password. You download an app. You publish 5mn later. You pay your host a fee. Storage and bandwidth should be limitless.

I mean in 2016 this simple thing doesn’t exist. The closest to that, Squarespace, is still talking about templates and “building” websites. Girl, that’s the past. Empower people, don’t scare them with technical shenanigans. The geekiness is not appealing to most people.

– Second, following and blocking should be as easy as on Twitter. Maybe in your app you have one tab with your content and then tabs for your groups, crews, posses, friends, followers etc. on/off toggles for options.

– Tertiomundo, I think there should be a limit in how many times you can post a day. Maybe just twice a day, under a 1,000 words each. I want people to write their thoughts, to discuss them, not to spam and take over just through shear output.

– Fourth, a micropayment solution perfectly integrated to allow people to pay each other. The hosting company takes a cut.

In a perfect world this framework would be open source and installed en masse by hosting companies trying to enlarge their markets.

I don’t believe in Ev’s vision of providing content to people. Not providing actually, force-feeding. “You might also like”  is wrong. Time spent reading is a weak ass metric. Publishing isn’t just about audience. FB’s algos are so wrong I always always feel like a lab rat on it, it’s gross. People need to make decisions, to reach for something. They need to want to read someone’s experience that’s how you grow, that’s how you actually profit from it. Did you know that your body processes food much better when you focus on it instead of watching some screen? Yup, same for thoughts. And as for food, it’s great to change and get something different any time you want. No “recommendation engine” can do that for you. You are your own chaos.

I’ll finish with this quote from Idle Words’ brilliant talks:

But the real world is a stubborn place. It is complex in ways that resist abstraction and modeling. It notices and reacts to our attempts to affect it. Nor can we hope to examine it objectively from the outside, any more than we can step out of our own skin.

Chaos is already here. Don’t try to reinvent it, incrementally make it more useful.

Difficulty design

June 27th, 2016 by harold

On Mighty N°9, via Rock Paper Shotgun:

First among them is the unwelcome inheritance of instant-death spikes on floors and walls, alongside many other environmental one-hit fatalities. The tiniest misjudgement or unfamiliarity around these things means instant death, and the frustration is because you have a positively archaic three lives and no continues per stage. It feels almost an affront, in an age where games save progress constantly, to be sent back to the start of the level to try again.

He continues:

At which point you have to acknowledge that this is a design choice, made thanks to nostalgia for a specific kind of challenge. And indeed some long-dormant region of my brain seemed to briefly stir, enjoying how easy it was to breeze through a level’s early challenges again, remembering to get a missed powerup, or take another route.

It really comes down to user experience and design going frontal against nostalgia and the trap of thinking that the past was really good.

It was not perfect, instant-death and boss battles were simply a design trend in the 80s because game designers were creating a lot of arcade games where the focus is to make you put more coins in the machine, thus hardcore difficulty and boss battles that you have to remember perfectly.

So playing Mega man was frustrating already at that time because it was super hard and it seemed kind of dumb because we were sitting in front of the TV in the living room, not standing in the arcade. Game’s style was so dope though. Fast forward to today where there are billions of new games each month, and we are more busy in our lives and I see how this design choice in MN9 still feels dumb.

However, and this is where things get interesting as the brain loves to grok when you go through something challenging, you will feel good. It’s not that it’s good game design, it’s just chemicals. But you will think, like a lot of gamers who can spend 5 hours straight beating a game that it’s a good game. Even if it’s flawed and that we know why (arcade influence).

Regardless of the type of game you’re building, I think being able to convey your game ideas, game designs without being brutal *while* being challenging is pretty much our main task. Which comes down to fairness to the player VS our systems. Example: instant-death on spikes is unfair and not consistent with the rest. Instant-death in Counter Strike is never, never unfair. Even when you’re a noob, you know or will know that you messed up.

That player’s feeling, happy and humbled and eager at the same time is really, really hard to convey and maintain. But when it happens bye here you go 200+ hours I’m coming!

Game7

June 21st, 2016 by harold

Shouldn’t have happened and yet it did and went Cleveland’s way.

I’m just reflecting on the game with a team, the Warriors, believing that it’s pretty much done while the other team is still grinding and determined.

I’m looking at Curry’s faith and terrible decisions in a final game and it’s like, I think he thought he was the Chosen One except that no one is, it’s just sports. Ultimately it’s going to come down to skills and physics. And in a game of basketball, the paint is going to be important no matter what.

Once they were up 3-1 the Warriors just stopped looking for blood, while the Cavs were harnessing super Sayan powers. The Warriors acted as if they firmly believed they deserved the title, that the 73-9 was some kind of a free pass to a back to back championship. Like Lebron wouldn’t try to block them on fast point breaks (he always does I don’t know how Curry and Iggy expected otherwise).

The irony to lose in the last 50 seconds on a three, that weapon that you’ve been using all year at a rate never seen before…

Respect to the East, see you next year. I want my Spurs with KL and KD to get the trophy back to the West.

E3 16

June 18th, 2016 by harold

Well,

Handhelds are definitely dead and for kids before they get phones and need laptops.

VR is in this super weird spot: expensive devices around, technology mostly working but not perfectly for everybody, and business-wise studios pretty much have to be financed by VR manufacturers because outside developers out there, I don’t think anyone bought a VR headset for the lulz in 2016 except for a bunch of enthusiasts. Manufacturers subsidies mean exclusivity which means more fragmentation and an artificial market… We’ll have 11 different VR headsets on the market soon. Yup.

What annoys me the most is to see critical advices not being followed: Jesse Schell is THE VR specialist, he said multiple times that headsets need 90 fps otherwise motion sickness happens real quick. Sony is about to ship a headset that doesn’t do 90 fps. Jesse said multiple times sound design is extremely beneficial to VR experiences. I have seen far too many demos and proof of concept with the most basic audio, it’s insulting.

Also, Magic Leap. Man that AR/MR thing just feels like the real deal. The last demo is very impressive. Not here yet though.

It’s impressive how crunch is never ever mentioned during E3 –not even as a joke-  even though organizations are so eager at GDC to talk about how it should never happen. Tell that to the Last Guardian team and gazillion others, I’m sure they’ll agree.

Zelda as main protagonist and the “what would Link be doing?” question couldn’t illustrate game conservatism more. It’s 2016 and that kind of stuff is frustrating. But it doesn’t matter Zelda was apparently the star of the week and Nintendo is about to play it safe and true to a 30 year old legacy. The usual.

Musically besides the little part in Watchdogs 2 with some refreshing classic everything is kind of the same vibe: epic orchestra and whiny pop music. And they all sound the same, exciting and extremely predictable. So it’s like eating pasta, basically.

So many things to get better at, folks.

The story demands

June 11th, 2016 by harold

Apparently, people have been asking for a story mode in Street Fighter V and I can’t believe I just wrote this, in a way.

Street fighter’s story is not a story it’s a setting: there’s a championship with all the best fighters in the world and you are one and you need to go at the top. The way SFII was dealing with fighters stories was perfect: it gave us a quick look at the possible reasons of a fighter entering competition once you won it all. We all understood that the story was an excuse to throw punches and kicks.

Here’s SFV story:

“Seven “Black Moons” are deployed by Shadaloo, granting M. Bison unimaginable power and enveloping the earth in total darkness. Seeing the moons mysteriously appear in the sky, Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li embark on an epic journey around the world to retrieve fragment pieces that are the key to stopping the “Black Moons” before it’s too late. Along the way, they encounter the rest of the World Warriors, each of whom have their own agendas and motivations in mind. The final battle between good and evil begins now… who will RISE UP?”

It’s beyond corny and overdone. It’s made for the fans who demanded that story mode. And that’s where it’s interesting in the relationship between developers and fans.

I don’t think we should give them what they want all the time. It feels like we’re parents stressing out with crying kids asking for that candy and we finally cave in, make him happy but in the end it’s still a shitty candy that the kid didn’t need and didn’t even care about as much as he was expressing how much he wanted it.

That story mode is exactly that. The problem is that candy is costly as hell and Capcom is probably trying to make it as cheap as possible (it’s free DLC) so, no one will be happy.

In the end caving in for fans makes financial sense. But this thirst for having everything explained and edited and movie-fied that people have is weird to me like, people are too tired to use their imagination and play with it?

Or more likely, there’s an entire generation that doesn’t feel comfortable at all with scarcity of anything and will just demand to obtain what they want.