Rozovian’s Music Log

Archive for December, 2010


Posted by Ad on December 16, 2010

Talking about Mass Effect brought up something else. Skill points. It’s the real-world equivalent of actual skills, except you don’t actually need to know anything, and learning is done by fidgeting with something for long enough or just accomplishing something possibly unrelated and deciding to gain that specific skill.

Which kind’a bothers me. I know how much easier it is for a game to have a vehicle which either is or isn’t operational, and letting a player character with motor skill x fix it if it wasn’t. But how about minigames that involve a simplified engine and replacing or fixing broken parts. Educational _and_ utilizing ppl’s real-world skills. But then the developers might actually have to know how car engines work. Oh, how difficult.

With more and more areas of education understanding the benefits of game-like learning tools, it’s rather silly that games themselves resort to silly numeric skills. Then again, telekinesis isn’t really a skill you pick up… well, anywhere irl. AFAIK, anyway.

I remember playing America’s Army back when it was compatible with Mac. It was fun. It was educational. Also, someone saved someone’s life using skills he picked up in the game. This is the kind of educational gains games can provide, if only the games would be built to incorporate real-world solutions.

What if you would, irl, successfully fix a car engine through guessing? It wouldn’t work because you don’t have the technical skill, right? Wrong, it’d work. because that’s how the world works. The real one. Now, extend that scenario to medical aid (instead of a magic healing bar or healing gun), electrical systems, metalworks, farming, aiming, etc.

Yeah, about aiming, you don’t really have crosshairs irk. Not half a meter above the weapon at least. Wanna aim close, you line up the sights; wanna run, can’t really aim well; wanna jump and shoot, goodbye accuracy.

But back on topic: the skill point system could be utilized backwards instead, as an indicator for how well you’ve performed different skills. Say we have a game where you’ve got first aid, broken engines, broken electrical systems, and shooting. Say players success rate with these things are tracked. Shooting would be kind’a easy to track, it’s all about how well you hit ppl/things that are clearly targets. Shooting into the sky (which is dangerous, btw) wouldn’t hurt your hit %, but hitting friendlies and missing hostiles would. Broken electrical systems and engines and stuff would also be easy to track – a success rate and a time spent per success…┬ámodified by how broken/complicated the things were. First aid could be tracked by checking if you’re following the correct procedure. I’ve taken first aid classes in our scouts group, in school and during my service. I should know the stuff better than I can remember atm. Give me a game with which to remind me, not a game where it’s trivialized in order to make it more “fun”.

On a related note, I want games where one player can command his forced RTS-style, and other players can fight those forces FPS-style. it’d make small LAN-parties so much more interesting.

Anyway, imagine if schools would track more interesting things than just proficiency in the subject taught in the classes taken. That could make kids more interested in learning. Imagine if schools would have disaster days, where select student get to treat (fake) injuries and get ppl out of a (not really) collapsing or burning building. Or give a class a couple of broken vehicles and let them fix them up. See how fast and how well they work. Teamwork _and_ technical skills. Or give them a completely out-there task, like build a synth (I’ve been doing that in Reaktor, it’s made me realize I should have taken more math classes) or do a TV commercial or an emergency plan.

Learning is more versatile than knowing. PPL should realize that while they’re still in school.

I’m becoming more and more interested in survivalism. Contrast that with how much time I spent in front of the computer, and see how that makes sense. ­čśÇ

Posted in education, game design | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Mass Defect

Posted by Ad on December 15, 2010

A copy of Mass Effect recently appeared near one of my computers. It said it worked on Mac. It kind’a did. After a couple of hours trying to figure out the problem, I think I’m sure it’s the graphics card. The game allegedly runs fine of an nVidia-MacBook, but not on my Radeon-iMac. And obviously not on my pre-Intel Radeon PowerBook.

So what bothers me about this? That there’s no official Mac version? That it works on some macs and not others? That it took me hours to figure this all out? Yes to all applicable, but the last one more than the others.

The game and the audio works just fine, but the 3d parts of the screen turns white and a lot of models are missing. I saw vistas of space and empty chairs in the intro, then a quick whiteout and flashes of the geometry. Said white flashes might be effects, since they managed to obscure just part of a hallway at one point, but once I turned too far the whole world went white again. Not the HUD, just the world.

On a related note, we have a lot of snow outside. They say there were these things called ditches than ran across the lawns. I have no idea what they’re talking about.

Anyway, missing models and a big whiteness. And there are instances where I found myself probably in a corner with the camera inside some thing, outside the geometry. There I could see something, but it was pretty weird and abstract looking. And dark, so probably just the other side of the thing I was looking through.

I might have spent 2-3 hours on figuring this out, trying different settings and seeing if the same problems persist, googling how to tell if the firmware is up to date and how to force an OS X 10.5-compatible updater to update on 10.6, rendering issues and how to access the graphics card’s settings, getting all kinds of support forum posts and torrent links in all that searching. And it all leads me to a simple solution:

I need to steal that laptop.

Also, I came across probably dozens of threads with ppl stating these same problems, or similar. On that note, some Radeon-OS X compatibility problem could explain the weird texture things happening on big ships in FreeSpace 2. Or did I solve that with some vSync thing, I don’t remember.

And to address the piracy issue, I’d buy a Steam licence if the game would work for me. It’s just 15 euros. BioWare, do you hear me? Make an official Mac version available, or leak a Radeon-compatible Cider version or something. Keyword: Radeon-compatible.

Post title refers to defects, not defecting. It’s punny in writing.

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