Friday, August 23, 2013

Nerd cred

So the math already came in handy. I am now the proud owner of a hot pink compass (Thanks, Bib!).

I was trying to figure out how I'd use that to slice up a circle (I have a ruler, and a calculator as well) so I can use the sweet wind projects book my Mom gave me. Turns out you can use the radius of the circle and the compass to mark any number of divisions provided you aren't scared of a little math.  :)





So you draw a circle, then make a starting point with your ruler. Let's say you need to divide the circle into three to make a 3 bladed pinwheel. Well you know that the three blades will take up a third of the circle, which means they'll be 120 degrees. Well that's not very helpful since you need a right triangle to use sines and such. But hey! You can draw a triangle between your center point, and two imaginary points at 120 degrees. Then you can slice that in half to form 30-60-90 triangles!  :D

Anywho, the short of it is you multiply your radius times the square root of three. That's the distance between your starting point on the circle, and the next third (since I can only measure straight distances with my current tools).

Booyeah!

Math.

Pinwheels here I come.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

MATHS

Been studying for the GRE and made a frightening discovery. I really do like math, haha. It's full of fun and interesting and unambiguous puzzles. It's full of interesting relationships and complex behaviors of simple things.

Guess it's just another gadget to play with.

Well that and it's the foundation upon which almost all that we love is built. So it's kind of important. Just saying.  :)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Night Sky

Lately I have finally gotten around to installing a game I bought last December in the Humble Indie Bundle 4.

Night Sky is a beautiful game in look and sound. It has a very relaxing, ambient feel similar to Osmos, though obviously the gameplay is completely different.


In Night Sky you control a sphere through physics intensive platforming challenges. Your ability to control the sphere changes from level to level. Mostly you'll use the arrow keys to bounce off of various obstacles and jump ramps, but sometimes even this will be taken from you and only gravity will propel you. You will also slow down for precise control, control pinball paddles, speed up to make long jumps, and reverse gravity. You also power various apparatuses with your motion.

I've not beaten it yet, but the content I have seen has been very satisfying and I can't wait to dive back into the beautiful dreams of Night Sky.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Starfarer

I have been playing Starfarer for a few months now. It's a slick tactical top-down space combat game. In the long run it will feature a campaign as well, but that is very much in the works.

The combat is the real gem of the game. It's been very nearly the only focus of development up to now, and it really shows. There's a variety of ships and weapons to play with, and each with it's own give and take.

 You pilot a single ship arcade style and give high-level commands to your fleet. Starfarer eschews RTS conventions in favor of way points for things like attack, defend, and scout. You can also give commands on individual ships like escort and defend. Then the marvelous AI decides which ship to send on each mission.

Each ship's payload is customizable and can be tricked out with hull mods to suit your play style or address a ship's strengths and weaknesses. Each ship is also equipped with an active system, like flares or teleportation. Mastering the use of these systems is key to success.

There are missions to challenge you, and a small sandbox campaign. You start with a single frigate and work your way up to a full armada by raiding enemy fleets. The only aggressor in the beginning is the pirates, but you can make enemies of any of the various factions.

In a word, the game is brilliant. When you shoot an enemy the hull starts to fracture and glow. If you hit them really hard you'll see melty bits floating into space. When you disable a ship there's a very satisfying screen-whitening explosion. Everything has been crafted with a love that shows in every detail.

It's a steal at the pre-order price of $10, and you'll get access to all the preview builds, which usually come out every few months.

See also:
And here's a few photos to massage your eyes with awesome!
The campaign map. Small fish in a big pond.
My small force. I'm piloting the more fragile of the two.  : )
The tactical map. This is where you give the orders.
Victory! Though I'd have preferred to take out that other ship, boardable ships are always a nice bonus.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Three word review

Last week I gained early access toFTL or Faster Than Light, and it's been blowing my mind. It's short and sweet; challenging, but not impossible. I have been watching a few streams over the weeks, trying not to go crazy waiting for this game, and in one of them someone asked what a good three word review would be. My first thought was "awesome, holy crap." I have now settled on "Can't stop playing." The developers describe it as a real-time spaceship simulation roguelike-like. That's very fitting, but also slightly convoluted, so allow me to break it down a little.

You begin in the hangar where you select your ship. You start with the Kestrel and unlock new ships as you play. Each ship also has a second variant that can be unlocked with different starting equipment and weapons. You can also customize your starting crew's names and appearances, though only humans have alternate skins (for male and female). When you're ready you launch into space and get ready for a great adventure. Or you fail miserably. Either way it's great fun.

The first thing you'll want to do is get your crew to their stations. The bridge, weapons room, shield room, and engine room all have consoles that can be manned. You will also be ordering your crew around to repair damage and fight enemy boarders. Other things you can control are the doors and airlocks and power distribution. Both are highly significant and vital to victory. Doors can be opened to vent oxygen. Airless rooms will extinguish fires and damage enemy boarders. But your crew will also asphyxiate without air so be careful. Power management is vital as you'll need to decide which part of the ship is most important at the time. Do you need that little bit of extra evasion or the medical bay for healing?

You jump from beacon to beacon searching for precious scrap and fighting rebels, pirates, and many many others. You jump from sector to sector at the long range beacons, hoping to make it to sector 8 to bring vital information to the remains of the routed Federation. Battles are tense and overwhelming at first, but eventually you find your rhythm and things get easier. You'll still fail a lot, though, which is all part of the charm.

I think FTL's greatest feature is the stories it generates. It's light on explicit story, but heavy on random laughs and events. Here are some of my favorites.

  • On my first play-through I made it maybe 3 nodes before jumping too close to star. I defeated the enemy ship, but the subsequent fires caused by the solar flares ended up killing all three of my crew members as they scrambled to repair the mounting damage to my ship.
  • I was fighting a mantis ship when a zoltan beamed aboard my ship. Zoltans are unique for having the least amount of health among the various races of FTL. I immediately vented the rooms he was in to try and take him down. He succeeded in breaking through my blast doors but only took one shot from a crew member to kill. It was pathetic and hysterical.
  • Loading down the starting cruiser with two mark 2 burst lasers and a mark 3 (Something I'd never seen 'til I bought that one). This amounts to an inordinate amount of pew-pew.
  • Having my last crew member cowering in the medbay as the ship burned around him so I could get the last few shots on the final boss with the aforementioned fire power.
 Seriously I don't know why you're still reading this.  :)  Go check out the site. Also here's some sweet videos and streams to watch (the streams have recorded videos). FTL releases on steam and GOG this friday, so get your $10 ready.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Indie stuff

It's hard to breach the impenetrable wall of AAA studios to get at the real people behind the games; to find out what makes each game live and breath. I think people want to feel the context as much as the experience. This is why the indie scene is so appealing. I can send an e-mail to most any indie game maker, and know that I'll get a response from someone who is very much like myself. Now granted there are the same kinds of people at AAA studios, but it feels like each indie game has more of a personality and more of a story to tell, because the less people there are working on something, the less noise there is in it. Everyone has a tremendous impact on the game, and everyone leaves their own mark. I just don't think you can feel that as much from the big studios.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Android closed?

I just want to point out the "d###ed if you do, d###ed if you don't"-ness of the latest Android hubbub.

People want a platform that isn't fractured and broken, but they don't want Google to close it off at all.  So which is it?  Can't really have both.  They have to do something if you want it to be more of a safe and structured environment.

Not trying to take sides, just objectively point out a flaw in the sensationalist Google-bashing tone I'm seeing so much of.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A good use for 3D?

I must admit to being inspired by this article on Popsci.


I freely admit that I'm a 3D skeptic. It seems like a superficial gimmick. But, if you have polarized viewing, you could make two sets of glasses that each only see half the screen. Then you can play split-screen games without actually splitting the screen. Think about that as your killer app. It would work with nearly all current 3D technologies.


I'd buy it.


You could even do something similar on the Nintendo 3DS. If you hold it sideways you should be able to adjust it to the point where you each see one screen (Not that you couldn't cheat the system rather easily, but it'd still be a fun gimmick).


To be fair, though. Games that support split screen are getting fairly scarce. This is counter-intuitive to the fact that screens are getting bigger and better, and computers better at handling multiple controllers. Maybe it's the game companies that are dropping the ball?


All I know is, this is one I idea that I really hope gets implemented, because it would be awesome.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Are texting laws helpful?

This study supposedly claims that anti-texting laws are ineffective.  Let's take a look at this claim.

  1. They studied periods immediately before and immediately after the laws were in place.  People do not change habits over night.  That is exactly the reason Ray LaHood is harping on enforcement.  People will not change until you give them a good reason to.  They need to look at long-term patterns within and across individual states.  They act like just using nearby states as a control is sufficient, but I don't buy that.
  2. They did look at possible causes in the increase.  I would assume that if there are more crashes, it's because people are trying to hide what they are doing.  This can only exacerbate the original problem.
  3. The big claim they are making is not that texting while driving is bad.  They are attacking stupid legislation.  I have to agree with them on this.  If distracted driving is the problem, banning texting is only attacking one symptom.  It does nothing to attack the root of the problem, people just aren't paying enough attention to the road.
So in conclusion, I think this study is probably fairly valid.  The numbers need to be watched and evaluated in the long term, and the news media needs to stop acting like studies like this establish causation.  There are lives to be saved, however, so thinking about this is probably overall a good thing.

Inspiration

Friday, September 10, 2010

Radioshack lied

That guy at Radioshack was really nice.  He felt bad about not having that thing that you wanted from their Internet store.  He felt so bad and is so nice that he's have a ten dollar coupon e-mailed to you.  Sounds great right?  Yeah, he's enrolling you in some spammy coupon e-mail list.  Isn't that great?  That ten dollar coupon that he was so nice to give you comes with some strings attached.  But he didn't mention that, did he?  He also failed to mention that everyone gets that same coupon.

Thanks for ruining my last shred of confidence in you.  You should have just asked me if I wanted to be on your spammy e-mail list.  Since you misled me and basically lied to me I will never trust your words again.

This rant based on a true story.