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Baron's Blitz: 2015
Dec 24th 2015
In a long tradition of avoiding end of the year blogs, I thought I would try to break my silence and write for the first time in a long time. This year I turned 33, a big number far beyond what I expected to reach growing up. It's funny because I rarely think of myself as an adult. It's only when I look in the mirror and see how my features have aged and realize this is how the world sees me that reality comes crashing down. I'm not old by any means, but I am fairly certain I am well on my way to a new period/chapter of life.
I used to write all the time about longing for the past. Memories of child hood, successes, and failures- they all tend to flow together in a pool of nostalgia so deep with revisionist history it's a wonder how I haven't drown in my own soap opera-ish b.s. The truth is I was miserable as a kid. Even more so as a teenager. I was lonely, self conscious (1), and quick to anger to name off just a few of my many flaws. Looking back now at 33, I wouldn't trade where I'm at now for any of that. For all the broken hearts, disappointments, and (especially) the lack of freedom, there's nothing I find myself interested in revisiting anymore. I like being an adult adulting around with adultish wisdom. It's like discovering a new character class unlocked in the game of life at level 33 you never realized you had already been specializing. That's my geekly reference for this post.
The Return of Sheep Moon...kinda
Oct 29th 2015
Well, I said it was going to be permanent.
I lied.
In all honesty I didn't plan on it. I was going to be done. Done with the WoW Community, done with the game, done with it all.
Programming tips for efficiency and problem-avoidance
Sep 15th 2015
Many of these will seem quite simple, though do note that I wouldn't be mentioning them if I hadn't encountered some sort of problem to be solved or found myself picking through some spurious-looking code in the past. These are also almost entirely mathematical in nature.
1. Police all input values to any ArcCos or ArcSin function to be sure that they're definitely between -1 and +1.
If there's ever any doubt, by which I mean if it is anything less than mathematically certain that your input values will be in that range, clamp them so that they will be. Here, 'clamp' means 'if the value is greater than 1 or less than -1, set it to be 1 or -1'.
Things which operating systems should be doing
Aug 16th 2015
I've thought a lot about the operating systems I use or encounter, mostly in the context of frowning upon unfriendly, inconvenient or antiquated behaviour and feeding my stack of inner hatred. As such, the following will likely have the undertone of a bit of a rant, but it is nevertheless presented as opinion with reasoning in the usual manner.
This is not necessarily a list of items which all modern operating systems are lacking. Indeed, some OSs may already satisfy a given item completely; the point is that not all do, and I believe these should be universal.
1. The function keys, at least in part, should be exclusively user-programmable.
Experimental game development concepts
Jul 15th 2015
Here's a few things I'd like to see, mostly from a more scientific perspective of having them tested out on the general gaming community and observing the reaction, though I wouldn't mind trying the first three concepts myself. I'll admit it, I do like making lists of things which interest me, and in that sense I guarantee that they're always a product of genuine thought or curiosity as opposed to a really weird and lengthy brand of clickbait.
1. Infinite difficulty
This is not a new idea overall, more the result of a particular conclusion related to how certain good games handle difficulty.
Baron's Blitz: The Scream TV series Pilot review
Jul 13th 2015
In a world of The Kardashians, Jersey Shore, and every other shocking symbol of idolized depravity, perhaps it's fitting that the opening minutes of Scream The TV Series shows two girls going at it while being filmed by someone nearby. After all, what better way to get attention, as taught by Scream 4, then by having 'fucked up shit happen to you'?
Yet we also live in the day and age of reboots, remakes, and endless sequels, which is of course why this TV show even exists. Story wise you won't see much carry over from the movies to the show because unlike most reboots, this series seems to want to set out on its own. For me this concept is fine, but it leaves me wondering why then call it 'Scream' if you're going to just create a separate entity?
Marketing, of course. Money. Name value. This is why 'Scream' is sharing its name with this new iteration. As someone whose taken many an opportunity to blast remakes and reboots (and still I say very deservedly so), I'm going to admit (full disclosure) that it's going to be hard not comparing this show to the movies it was based around. Complain in the comments if you must, but the way I see is that if they want to cash in on the name value to help give this show some legs then it must also be willing to submit itself to the judgmental comparisons that go along with it. Take the bad with the good, folks. That's just life.
Operation Supply Drop Summer Siege Event!
Jul 4th 2015
For those of you who have been around since the beginning, you may recall that I wrote a brief article about an organization called Operation Supply Drop almost two years ago. The original article can be found at http://www.rivalcastmedia.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=943 but, for those who need a brief refresher, they're a charity that sends care packages full of gaming goodness to U.S. and NATO troops stationed overseas.
Upon leaving the military, Captain Stephen Machuga realized that civilians wanted to show their support for the troops overseas, but that their care packages, while well meaning, showed a total lack of understanding regarding what the troops would actually appreciate. Capt. Machuga decided that he could do better, and armed with that confidence, approached various industry organizations, from developers to publishers, and began sending 'supply drops', inspired by the care packages in Call of Duty, loaded with games, consoles, and peripherals to troops that were down range.
Orbfest 2015 Ghost Hunt welcomes you to Brinton Lodge
Jun 21st 2015
On June 25, 2015 we will be heading out for our second live paranormal ghost hunt at the Brinton Lodge in Douglasville, Pennsylvania. Brinton Lodge is a nonprofit historic site whose history begins in the 1700's. Once nothing more than a tiny farm house built by the Millard family, it has since been renovated over the years into a 28 room mansion with three floors and a large basement. During that time the building had several owners who used it either as a private residence or as several different businesses. Until recently, the Lodge operated as Covatta's Brinton Lodge Restaurant.
One of the most known stories was written in the book, 'Ghost stories of Berks County Book One' by Charles J. Adams III. He recounts the story of Caleb Brinton, a rather snooty fellow who bought the building in 1927 and opened a very exclusive, very secret gentlemen's club for the county's elite. Those who attended are scarcely known, and the extent of secrecy Caleb was willing to go to even included hiding the guests' automobiles in a nearby barn built on the premises.
In 1972 there was a flood that destroyed much of the downstairs of the building. Allegedly Caleb was so distraught of the damage that he never re-opened the lodge. Caleb died 3 years later in 1975.
Meme assassination: Division by zero
Jun 15th 2015
One of my previous Mathematics teachers liked to recall an occasion when he gave a guest talk at an elementary school, where he found that the students would always respond to problems which could be stated within the scope of what they already knew, but couldn't be answered within that scope, with the same phrase:
"You can't do that."
This is understandable, of course; I don't expect a young child to look at the equation x + 1 = 0 and conclude that there must exist numbers below zero for the purpose of solving it. I certainly don't expect anyone not studying a maths-powered subject at sixth-form college to look at x² + 1 = 0 and conclude that there must exist something beyond the 1-dimensional 'number line'1, though he did have a point in that it would be a step forward to teach the kids to say something else such as "That has no solution"2.
How to eliminate Power Creep in persistent online games
May 15th 2015
In which Hax presents a thinly-veiled plot to undermine the Experience/Level system, and the reader berates his terrible choices for example names.
Unfortunately, this does not refer to protecting yourself online from incredibly dedicated stalkers. The best advice I can give for that is never to reveal your name, e-mail address or your presence on other online communities, and definitely never use Facebook or the like.
Instead, this article refers to what should probably be called 'Power Inflation'; a concept often employed by MMOs or other games with some degree of persistence as a fast and cheap means of providing long-time players with new goals (i.e. a reason to continue playing). The trade-off, of course, is that the player becoming more powerful is equivalent to all previously-released content becoming more trivial. If the content was well-designed, it would have been fun and challenging when it was released, which is lost if the player is able to inflate their power indefinitely as new content is released.