Playing Any PC game on your Phone? Coming Sooner than you think…

The application is called Kainy and was brought to our attention in a comment on the Minecraft: Pocket Edition update article we wrote yesterday. This application is a 2 part program, one part being the actual application for your Android device (the client), and the other being for your PC which streams your games to you as it runs them (the server). Essentially this is your own OnLive network for your own PC games to play on your Android devices.

via Meet Kainy, the application that lets you play PC games on your Android device anywhere.

This is pretty dang awesome.  Letting your phone act as a simple terminal means mostly what it wants is bandwidth, which wifi and/or 4g can bring in spades.

Testing report coming soon…

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Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand Died, and Andrew Ryan Created Rapture (an exploration of a lack of morality in economics)

I’ve recently had the pleasure of playing through Bioshock a second time, and, well, I’m more blown away than I was the first time.   The first time through I largely missed the story, simple following instructions and playing through.  On the second I sat and listened more closely, and enjoyed it quite a bit more.

Allegedly a first-person-shooter, Bioshock could be better viewed as a story about what happens when morality is removed from science, and when ‘the market’ is given full sway over the running of a society.  A cautionary tale about what can go wrong when ego runs amuck, Bioshock is perhaps the single greatest artistic deconstruction of Rand’s “philosophy.”

In “Bioshock” the game is set in an underwater creator’s paradise called “Rapture”.  In “Atlas Shrugged” the paradise is called “Galt’s Gulch.”   The main question of the book Atlas Shrugged is the simple query, “Who is John Galt?”   Adorned on poster’s throughout Rapture is a similar query, “Who is Atlas?”  There are, most likely, agreat many more literary references in the games, but alas, it’s been a long time since I waded through Rand’s thousand page rants.

UPDATE: Someone put a good video together of Andrew Ryan’s speeches.  These are interspersed throught the game.

The storyline of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead is largely the same.  A true creator wishes to by unimpeded by petty morals and government and any social economic concerns, and strives for a Utopian idealistic objective existence, free from the influence of others.   What makes the Bioshock storyline so interesting is that it begins as the Randian ideal society (“Rapture”) is falling apart after new wrinkle is thrown into the equation.

In Bioshock, this wrinkle is embodied in a type of sea slug that creates “Adam” a gene mutating/controlling substance refined and implemented outside of pesky government institutions like the FDA or FBI.  All that matters is that it works for some people and there is a market for it.  Sure, it drives people crazy and kills a few of them, but in the truly free Randian market, it is the buyer who must totally beware. The concept of product liability is an item left for the courts, of which there are none is Rapture, because who wants pesky judges deciding what is allowable and what is not.  “Let the market decide” is the mantra of the objectivist, and of Andrew Ryan, Bioshock’s very own John/Howard Galt/Roark.

The problem with such concepts, and of Objectivism in particular, is that they essentially boil down to “might makes right.”   This is easy to see in the objectivist viewpoint as illustrated by Rand herself.

If you want this translated into simple language, it would read: 1. “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” or “Wishing won’t make it so.” 2. “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.” 3. “Man is an end in himself.” 4. “Give me liberty or give me death.”

The biggest problem with this is in Number 3, which completely misses the fact that in order for something to be “true” in any objective sense, it must both be stated as a proposition and agreed upon by another.  One man simply shouting the truth and assuming it to be the whole truth, is invariably alone and a bit whacked in the head.    A single perspective simply cannot hold in the face of the fullness of reality.  One viewpoint does not a complete picture make.

Indeed, as Rand illustrates in her further explanation…

  1. Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.
  2. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
  3. Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.

…there is no place for emotion or love in this philosophy.  To love oneself is a good thing, but this love is demonstrated in service to others, and those that show no love for others, demonstrate a lack of love for themselves.   In Rand’s philosophy, to show love and provide service for another is a bad thing.  Indeed, it is often considered the worst thing.

To be sure, there should be a fair exchange rate for services agreed upon, and Rand tries to deal with this in her fourth bullet point.

4. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.

These concepts, as stated, are completely contradictory when put into practice, as Bioshock illustrates so graphically.  How can a state and economics not be mixed?  What does this look like the real world?   Who is it that guarantees these freedoms?   Obviously Rand relies on government as arbiter, but doesn’t want to pay for it, as all taxation is considered “theft.”  The only way government can be an enforcer of rules is if it has the power to enforce them.  The only way it can have that power is through underwriting and regulating the economic system of a country, and basically being the biggest player at the table.  Someone, or something has to keep the playing field level for a market to stay stable.  Without a regulating force, the table becomes tipped and the little stack loses to the big stack, to draw a Hold ‘Em analogy, more often than a level playing would predict.

As we have seen recently in the United States and global capital markets, without the oversight of someone, then there will always be that weak link, that greedy man lost to himself.  The problem of objectivism when applied to the real world is that there is always someone like Bioshock’s “Fontaine,” ready to break one rule (the violence one) in order to follow the other rule (one’s own happiness is the highest good).

The compromise that free people of the world have settled upon is giving up that ultimate power to a system of government that, throug a series of checks and balances, reaches a certain type of stability.  Perhaps the greatest single sign of this, in the U.S. at least, is the very well entrenched notion that ulitmate power is limited by time.  Yes, a President can do many things in the name of peace and security (like go to war and spy on their own citizens), but in time that power fades, as the time is added to the equation.  Naturally limiting a temporary imbalance of power.

It is in this time dimension that the power becomes balanced, as it allows the system to change and adjust itself in a natural feedback loop of democracy [1].   Truly despotic systems have to be, essentially, stable ones.  It is only through a long term, stable vision of despotism (viewed as one individual’s utopia), backed by the ultimate power of the state, wherein one’s dreams (other’s nightmares) can be realized.  In this aspect the entire world owes a favor to George Washington, and any other “first” leader who follows him, in that they demonstrated how to relinquish the reigns of power as dictated by the laws of the state.

To humble themselves before the law, they make the changing law supreme, and not the fickle will of man.

[1]The only constant is change, to put it poetically, and it is our own limited lifespans that create the need for a moral, a.k.a. emotional, element in the system.   This is not to say that the emotional element should dominate the system, as system dominated by morals dictated from the top tend to eat themselves as they bask in their own greatness (i.e. the divine right of Kings), but morality is an essential part of any stable system.

And “morality” is a shared sense of the goodness (and badness) of things.

Objectivism, and “Rapture” both fail in this regard, as morality and emotion are necessary part of any stable economic system.  Without them the system will eat itself eventually and often much sooner than much later.

Like it says in the title…from International Politics to Video Games.

Peace.

General advice on playing Bioshock: Hack everything, especially turrets and camera.   Use that wrench to save ammo. Then use ammo liberally on the Big Bros.   Take pictures of everything, especially Houdini’s (it makes it a lot easier to reload when you are invisible) and Big Bros (any help you can get with kicking their ass is appreciated).  Act morally toward the Little Sisters, as it matters in the end how you treat the weak and defenseless…

FINAL SPOILER:  The Best of Andrew Ryan.

The Best (and Worst) Superbowl Ever

American Honeys

American Honeys

So I went to my favorite pub/sports pub to do some liveblogging for the Superbowl.

As football is about as close as I come to organized religion, the Superbowl is a big day for me.  A Super Party, if you well.   I had picked my location in the bar early and spent most of the day flirting and taking pictures and watching one heckuve football game.

There was one rather catastrophic downside though.  As I was at a bar, using my laptop, there was a chance things could go badly.  This happened right after halftime, when a half-full cup of water was poured on my laptop by a group of drunk Mexican nationals (the rich Mexicans).

Quick note on the glass half-full versus the glass half-empty riddle.  Trust me on this one, it is the half-full side of the glass that causes problems.  The empty part does nothing.  The glass is/was half-full.

The half-full glass ultimately fried my laptop and leaves me in a rather precarious place, as I am now an artist without  a brush.  I’ll figure something out, but it was a big loss.  Here’s how the liveblogging of the first half went.  By the second half I was deep into flirting territory and had to stop blogging.  It happens…

Continue reading

I’m Still Trying to Come Up With a Title for My Book

I just thought of another good one, “Philosophy is an Action.”

If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.  I’ve already written down some predictions of what people will think of it, and I want to check my work.

Joel, you first.  🙂

The 1st Book Is Going to Be 50,000 Words Long

I like the number 50.

A comment on Facebook is 1000 characters long, so I’ve been training my ability to be efficient.

So, 50 comments is about a book, right? [UPDATE:  C’mon, I need somebody to check my math.  My book isn’t going to be 50,000 characters long (it went past that in the first week) but 50,000 word words and 50,000 picture words.  Sorry for the confusion.]

50 is one of my favorite numbers.

On the number scale I try and introduce in Chapter 2 of the book, it is “1” on the scale of 1-100 (relatively, when 1=0 and 100=infinity) .

I really like that number.

And I think I’m going to limit it to 100 footnotes.

football

This is all for Version 1 (V1). I figure I’ll have to expand it later but that’s the limit, 50,000 words in month.

{note: this is to give me a “stopping point”. I’m going to write about 56 or 60 and then edit it down by Stephen King’s Recommended 10%. Since I actually want to sell this one, I followed his story telling advice. I think he’s pretty good at it.}

Oh, and pictures don’t count as words.  Well, they count as 1000 words, so maybe, if I can find the right publisher for a 100,000 word “memoir(e)” book, I’ll include the pics.  If I do self-publishing lulu route, including the pictures would make the book rather expensive (like in the $100 range).

Hmmmm, that give me an idea….

Fallout 3 and Fable 2 End-scene Mash-up (*Spoilers*)

I put together this video the other day to compare and contrast the ending sequences of Fallout 3 and Fable 2.

Both these games are pretty amazing in their own respects, I did a longer compare and contrast post here.

They also employ the same end-game-sequence creator theory, in that the final cut scenese (as shown below) are built and narrated based on the character’s actions in a game.  In the case of Fallout 3, the eulogy aspect of it is literal, while you get to live and keep playing in Fable 2.

Enjoy!

The XBox 360 3.0 Legal Experience

This is a short video of the very fun time I had playing the new game that comes with every XBox 360 upgrade, “Legal Agreement”.

Its a pretty basic down-scroller, build old-school text-only style.   I liked a lot of games like Zork and Hithchikers Guide to the Galaxy back in the day, but I figured with the upgrade you would get some cool new stuff.

Anyway, here’s a video of the gameplay.

Fallout 3: Inside the Heads of Raiders (bonus: Fable 2 and Fallout 3 Comparison)

Fallout 3 Comic

Fallout 3 Comic

 More available here.

FALLOUT FROM… FALLOUT

comic updated November 14, 2008

And today we venture back — back, through time, to continue the classic (old, actually) tale called forth from the hoary mists: The Otters in “True Crime Stories!”

So — not to brag, but guess who got featured on the front page of the Bethesda Blog yesterday? HMM? HMMM?

Which is pretty darned awesome — other people make games, Bethesda makes WHOLE WORLDS. And then sells them at a very reasonable price. In fact — and given how hyped up I was on the whole thing, this is a hard thing to admit — “Fallout 3” has turned out to be FAR more engaging than “Fable 2.” Not that “Fable 2” isn’t good! Just, “Fallout 3” is so much more… MORE.

Anyway, that’s notable enough for my day. Back to work!

Great comic and great game.  I think I have to agree about the Fable 2 thing, as well.  Fable 2 is a good game.  Maybe even a great one…but once I put in Fallout 3, I didn’t touch Fable 2 for a couple weeks.

This actually turned out to be kinda nice, because when I loaded Fable 2 back up, I got my back-pay of about 200,000 gold to continue building my real estate empire (side-note…Fable 2 has a LOT of fun things to do, building a real estate empire is but one of many…but the “style” of game is more…comic…and also much more raw [e.g. compare sex-scenes in Fallout 3 with Fable 2…both of which lose badly to The Witcher, but that’s a pretty high bar.] 

Ultimately, Fallout 3 gets the nod because it’s done with so much…how do you say it…”I don’t know what“….maybe it was just the story, and the GREAT humor (which Fable 2 has as well, tons…the “books” in the game are hilarious), and the realistic bits that drew me in so far (and of course VATS…but you get pretty close to VATS in Fable 2, including slow-mo decapitating head shots).

Regardless, it’s hard to go wrong with either game, but if you only have the budget for one…Fallout 3 is the way to go, IMHO.

UPDATE: Oh, and I got the comic off this blog.  Great stuff there for Fallout 3 fans.  Looks like that girl went through *everything* in the game and wrote about it.  Personally I try and avoid spoilers for the most part, unless I’m totally stuck and getting annoyed, YMMV.

UPDATE2: I realized just what that je ne sais quoi I mentioned previously actually was.  Sometimes when I’m playing Fable 2 I have to fight the camera, and it’s annoying as hell.  Take for example the Gargoyle Quest in Fable 2 where you have to find and destroy 50 stone gargoyles hidden around the world.  You always know when one is near, because they talk a crap-ton of shit to you in a very distinctive voice (yes, you get heckled constantly…it’s funny…and it takes a while before you learn to separate it from the regular chatter of Fable-folk).  To find them you have to look up and move around.  The problem is that when you move, the camera tries to move to it’s “natural” 3rd person perspective.  You tend to find yourself fighting the game in a functional sense.

Gaming is all about “beating the game” but you don’t want to feel like the game is making itself annoying.   It’s a fine thing to point out, because Fable 2 really is a very good game.  In Fallout 3, with its camera options and a UI that gives absolute and quick control to the player, the interface never gets in the way.  This is Fable 2’s little problem.  I have a video I’ll put up that illustrates it exactly (try buying and using 15 XP potions quickly), but it’s those bits that make the big difference.

Fallout 3 being a sequel built on the same engine as Oblivion obviously gave Bethesda a huge advantage here., but be that as it may, camera control and, frankly, frame-rate (yea…Fable 2 gets sluggish every now and again), are probably the two biggest differentiating factors in getting at the vast amounts of gameplay both titles have to offer.

Fake World Sales Skyrocket As Real World Goes to Shit

October/November 2008 was an absolute WATERSHED in gaming.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – U.S. sales of videogame hardware and software rose 18 percent in October from a year earlier, after falling 7 percent in September, as Nintendo Co Ltd’s Wii console sold over 800,000 units, market researcher NPD reported on Thursday.

Video machine makers said the results boded well for the holiday season.

“We feel cautiously optimistic (going into the holidays), we don’t see anything in this (NPD) data that leads us to believe there’s a pullback,” said Microsoft spokesman David Dennis.

Dennis said the release of the Microsoft-produced “Fable II” and Bethesda Networks’ “Fallout 3,” which ranked as the first and third best-selling games in October, helped increase the Xbox 360’s consumer attach rate. Xbox sales will get an even greater boost in December by “Gears of War 2” sales, as the game has already sold over 2 million copies since its release on November 7, Dennis added.

[full story]

This is happening for a couple reasons, one of which is good, one to watch out for.

First up…the bad part. Gaming is an industry now. A big one. An important one, that moves a lot of money. The timing of releases with sales cycles is very important. A movie might have a shelf life of a year or two before it hits big, games don’t work like that. Yes, there are gems and indies that make good, even great, games…but the economic of the situation are pushing toward the high end.

This means fall releases. These are the Christmas games. So all the AAA titles are going to generally come out around my birthday (Halloween)…probably from here on out for the next 10 years or so. And largely because of the linked story, strangely enough. It turns a lot of heads when you show big growth during a downturn. A lot of heads.

Now, that’s the downside. The upside….

Think for a second about your history as a gamer. My own started on the 2600 about the age of 5. It’s been somewhat consistent since then, ranging from consoles to PCs to handhelds and back to to fully realized Console/PC/Mobile situation where I can pretty much have a solid platform to play on anywhere, for anywhen.

There is a whole generation like me. Some of you even posted in this thread. Many of us followed different paths in life, usually with a PC around somewhere. Some of us ended up in that place….making those games we dreamed about.

This is the generation of game designers and artists and industry that is *just now hitting its stride*. This is my generation of game-makers, and we’re farking awesome at it.

Mainly because if we suck at it, we’re not afraid to register our frustrations on the internet within seconds.

And since we just elected a President who collects comic books and plans to do a weekly YouTube address to the world….we’re in charge now. The geeks done took control.

Yea, the real world might suck some time, but we’ve learned we have the power of gods to create worlds of our own. The power of gods to decide that our world is a good one.

And after having wandered around a few of the ones my compatriots have created, may I say, and say solemnly…good show, sirs.

Good shows, indeed.

Fallout 3 : Final Battle (SPOILERS)

Note: If you are playing Fallout 3 and don’t want to see the amazingly awesome epic finale as done by a fully realized, alien-pistol-toting, V.A.T.S.-abusing, tesla-armor wearing Wanderer…don’t watch this video.

If instead, you want to see it, or don’t plan on playing the game and wonder what all the fuss is about….watch the first video I put up….a really basic one…and then watch this. 

This game was a blast.  Fun from stem to stern.  Well done, guys. 

NOTE: Press play, then pause and give it a minute to load, this one is set to run at 720p.  That’s more than most standard DSL/cable connections can handle for pseudo-streaming.  If you are on Fios or other fiber, it’ll probably be fine.  The age of always-crappy YouTube video was short and is over.

If that’s too slow, here’s the “regular” HQ version.

Previous Videos:

Fallout 3 : Flaming Sword and Mini-Nukes

Fallout 3 : Predatoring

UPDATE: I recut the video with what I think is a more appropriate soundtrack.

HD version…

HQ version…