Sunday, November 27, 2011

TyL: Found on the Internet....

... by someone else and offered without comment:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rant: Doctor Who Movie? Oh, This is not Likely to End Well....

"We’re going to spend two to three years to get it right. It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena.”
David Yates on trying to take Doctor Who to the movie theatre.

My own personal disrespect for the mans movie making abilities notwithstanding, lets address where this is going to go wrong:

1) Throw everything current out and reboot the series for the theatres only. (ie: we want to be able to tell our own story!) Hey, outside the neighing and stewing of continuity nerds there's nothing inherently wrong with that but...

2) ... this idea that you need to "rework the concept" to make it work in the movies when they do two hour specials every fucking year just makes me /facepalm. The concept is solid and straightforward: "crazy" alien on the run with his stol... er... borrowed time machine picks up hot earth chick (+ her SO now and then), and takes her on adventures through time and space. Earth chick is our point of reference to the protagonist, protagonist gets through things based on wit and comes across as a bit scattered to anyone not working in his head. It's applicable to any medium and the only real thing you need to decide is which pieces of the existing story you want to adapt and when.

Furthermore, the idea that the movie theatre is a "bigger arena" for a show that airs worldwide to billions these days already is kinda laughable and plays to a certain elitist line of thought towards the medium. You don't need to be on the big screen to be "epic", sorry. You need to tell a tight fucking tale with moments of fucking "Woah!".

All this means you don't need to rework the concept. What you actually need to do is tell an awesome 2 hour story containing the character archetypes people have become familiar with and love without falling into the trap that many people trying to goto the big screen with an established franchise do...

3)... and that's that "Our Story" needs to be self contained because nothing, and I mean nothing, produces worse movies than the assumption that you're going to get sequels and we need to clutter up this story with hooks to the next 15.

If "Doctor Who" the first movie is anything more than: "Here's the Doctor, here's the hot chick, 'Hey, look, time travelling telephone box!', here's todays threat/adventure, wrap with them heading off for the next", then you've got too much story. Gallifrey? You can get to that. Any more than one, and I mean ONE, of the rogues gallery present? You can get to that. The Master? You can get to that. Regeneration? When the actor asks for a raise/wants out you can get to that.

Seriously, don't try and get everything into the first film just so you can say you've covered all your bases- it leads to a cluttered mess like Green Lantern.


4) ... It will be interesting to see who this film is for. To some people, Doctor Who is Children's programming, to others family, and to others it's tight Sci-Fi regardless. The reason the series, and particularly the current rebooted incarnation, has been so successful is that it manages to straddle a whole lot of lines. This is going to cause the biggest hurdle in getting this produced because the elephant in the room is quickly going to be studio expectations for which of those markets they think the movie is going to appeal to and how. This has the potential to end in a lot of disappointment when the Doctor picks a couple spunky kids as the companions instead of a 20-25 year old pin-up girl because that's what the studio wants to "make it relatable to a younger audience" and risks resulting in the whole thing blowing up at the box office because the end product only services some, or none, of the niches or changes it in ways that the property no longer appeals.

For reference, see "The Last Airbender" for what happens when you get a bunch of people in the room who think they know what the audience wants better than the source material does.

All of this is why I really don't have any current expectation the "movie version" will be good or successful and I think I'm going to just stand aside from here on out until the reviews hit (if the project ever makes it out of development hell that is), before making a call.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

WoW: The Great iLvL Escape.

Ghostcrawler poked his head out of the sand last week to address item scaling. In particular, the fact that the exponential growth system currently in use is going to quickly get us into the ludicrous numbers range on our gear and, by extension, what we hit/heal/etc for. Most people have read it and missed one point though: they were obviously looking for feedback, which is why pretty much everyone has treated the discussion as an "either/or" debate between "Mega Damage" and "Item Squish", but they were also looking for other options to attack the issue.

So, I'm going to hit up both feedback and provide a couple other options.

Mega Damage is basically a work around for the reality that, if we were to continue to scale in power exponentially, the engine would need to be reworked to deal with the fact that we're going to be dealing damage in the millions... per hit. For a real world example of where numbers run into display caps, think of how, as you level your Characters in old Final Fantasy's, you'd eventually start hitting for 9999 damage and cap out. Similar restrictions currently exist within WoW (though, obviously at a higher scale), so Mega Damage is less about splashing the term round the screen and more about having to make sure those extreme numbers will display properly and can be processed by system on both ends.

Beyond the fact that I'm pretty sure Palladium Books has a registered trademark on that (which, given the state of the pen + paper RPG industry, may be questionable to tempt), GC's basically hit all the major roadblocks here: it's awkward and will eventually run into the real limitations of computing power - both locally and server side. The reality is that, as much fun as it may be, letting our numbers scale into infinity is going to make encounters look really, really strange.

I say that because there will eventually come a point when we're going to be standing in front of a boss with 999 Billion health (or more) and start pounding on him for 100 Million DPS/Player under this situation and that's just boggling.

Item Squish basically says we're going knock the exponential growth out from under the player at the end of each expansion, place all gear before the current/upcoming expansion back on (relatively) linear growth, and thus attempt to reset the curve such that we have more room to breathe. There are a few glaring problems with it:

1) Players potentially go from hitting for 40K DPS at the end of Cat to hitting for 4K DPS heading into MoP (for pure example: there are no hard numbers as to where we'd be), so you're likely going to log in one day and feel like you've been hit with the nerf stick; hard.

2) In scaling everything - gear, bosses, mobs - down, every single mob and dungeon encounter currently in the game is going to have to be rebalanced and tested against the new status quo because it very rarely turns out that you can simply "decrease by x" significantly - which is what would be required to get us all back to iLvL 200 gear by the start of MoP - without having any consequences to the encounter design. This is going to be a pile of work I'd really rather dev time not be wasted on or, worse, the Devs might handwave simply because its primary effect will be to screw up legacy content. Admittedly, this only needs be done once (theoretically), and then only for each expansion at the end.

3) It doesn't permanently fix anything; it just buys time as the high end of the curve gets pushed further out.

I can see why, in the either/or discussion, people prefer Item Squishing because it results in less obscene numbers in the end (for a bit), and that screenshot for Mega Damage is pretty dumb, but maybe it's time to consider other options as well.

Half way between Item Squishing and Mega Damage lies the idea that maybe, just maybe, we can allow gear to continue scaling but at a less obscenely fast rate. For example, maybe MoP gear only goes up by 600 Points in the primary stat slot by 5.3 instead of ~2100 points as per GC's example:

I like to call this the Rule of 600 (although, the number is flexible TBH), in that basically we're looking for non linear growth within a defined window of 600 points . You'd want a curve that backends most of the points while still seeing to it enough points are on the front end to encourage swapping out gear as people level. Although, with the addition of iLvL restrictors to the game, it's worth considering that there are other mechanics to incentivize gear swapping now. The big problem with this is that, in being a half way solution, it doesn't delay the scaling as fast as the Item Squish and still requires some attention to the Mega Damage problem. As well, the question is whether or not this will be considered "enough" of a "power increase" for people used to stupid levels of scaling - especially as a percentage of total increase/tier.

While the later problem is going to be somewhat subjective - though not to the math nerds - the primary benefit is that it would be hard to argue you got nerfed under this system because power would continue to increase; just at a slower rate.

If you wanted to absolutely clear the table though, there's a tried and true method for this in RPG's: The Hard Reset. Not so much from a: "It's time to have WoW 2.0* and put everyone back to level one", stand but more from a: "The Mists of Pandaria corrode/disables/etc your puny Azerothian gear. Replace it", position. This would attempt to replicate those situations where you'd go into zones ("Hell" zones are good examples of where you might need specific gear), and your gear just wouldn't work or the GM decides (preferably in consultation with the players), that you've accumulated too much Wealth/Power and it's time to have your ship get hit by a typhoon and you to wake up soggy in your nightclothes on a distant shore or an "enemy" gets the upper hand and strips you of your gear/position/power to try and bring some balance/challenge/strife back to the game.

This is the hardcore Item Squish in that, for the sake of argument, you'd basically want to do something like: "Azerothian gear is weakened to 10% of it's normal levels", and then build from there by replacing that gear with the gear you'd find in Pandaria that would scale from the new baseline. This is a bit awkward, in that it essentially creates a whole second "class" of gear and you'd likely want to swap back to pre-MoP gear to run old instances/raids. Running through pre-MoP quest zones is less of an issue because, though this is a bit easier for casters than weapon users, a Level 85 can still kill most 85 mobs naked if they're on their game. The solution to those issues may lie in the Challenge Mode Dungeons as it could also be theoretically possible to apply its normalization mechanic outside the dungeons to have MoP gear normalize to a fixed Level 85 equivalent set on legacy content. Considering that, the Hard Reset does offer some benefits:

1) The gear reset can be to any point Blizzard is comfortable with and scale as high as they want within an expansion in the same sense. This makes the Hard Reset the most effective permanent solution because, when we wander off to fight Sargeras + the Burning Legion in 6.0 his demonic realm can functionally do the same thing to our puny MoP gear, or not. It all depends on how often you want to wield the axe and how hard. Long term, this gives you the most flexibility because you're no longer delaying the inevitable, you're creating a mechanic and tools to prevent it.

2) You can also now consider other ways to scale the player under the new gear system or even from expansion to expansion; from enchants, raw player stat increases as the character levels, or even the addition of new kinds of gear slots and the like because you've now more space to shift power elsewhere.

3) You never have this awkward intermediate stage where you're fighting Deathwing one week doing 40K dps, then the 4.4 patch hits to push down the MoP changes and now you're feeling like you're back in Kara doing 4K because, under the Hard Reset, it's arriving on Pandaria that presents the issue and not a retune to the game. In other words, you don't need to deflate every character and pre-MoP encounter in the game to ensure damage in MoP doesn't scale out of control.

The downside? Most definitely a nerf to start at least. How much of a nerf depends on how you want to work this: is your Hard Reset going to basically just upend the status quo and set things up so you've room to breathe for another 5 expansions, or do you want to do something like a 50% debuff on prior gear every expansion so that you can do something like this:
and tighten up your growth rate by nerfing power at the start, while still letting everyone be more powerful by the end than they were in the prior expansion. The problem with doing it the later way though is that players will likely begin to feel Yo-Yo'd.

That said, I'm honestly of the opinion that maybe the Hard Reset is the way to go because, as GC noted, sometimes it's best to just rip the bandaid off and this bandaid? It's the biggest one to yank by far.

* Folks, Cataclysm is WoW2.0

Sunday, November 6, 2011

TLU: I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means...

Random kid: "Why are you crossing the bridge; aren't you brave enough to come down here!"
Me: "Plenty brave. Just not an idiot"

Soooooooo... there's this, well, I guess creek that used to run down to the lake. It was dredged each year or so such that it was deep and fast moving to ensure the water passed quickly through it from the swampland out to the lake to manage the runoff. In the winter, kids liked to play on it when no one was looking. I say "when no one was looking" because their parents would ground them for a month if they caught them on it for the very simple reason that the things that made it great for moving water in the spring also saw to it that it didn't freeze to ground in the winter, that you'd get soft spots in the ice from the flow rate, and if you went through you'd be downstream from the hole so fast the next time you'd be seen was when they were pulling your corpse out of the lake in the spring. I was old enough to have been around when it last happened. Them, not so much.

It's conversations like that that remind me that bravery is not about doing things that would get you killed - that's just idiocy or thrill seeking - but instead about doing the thing anyone in their right mind would turn and run from because it's what needs to be done.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

CBCR3: Until We Meet Again...

... because the podcast was retired on Monday in favour of links posted to a half dozen social media sites you can track down and click to goto the site and listen to the track.

Too. Much. Work. With the podcast I could poke my head in once a week, do a filter pass to everything that dropped, then kill the stuff I had no interest in while leaving the rest for a more thorough listen later. It was rather convenient and let me build a nice little playlist to carry around with me on the iPod. That's the bigger limitation here: I simply can't carry the website in my pocket (without investing in a much more expensive phone and data plan at least), which kinda defeats my entire purpose for doing this.

So, this will likely be the last update to the playlist unless they return to pushing data out to listeners instead of expecting them to come get it. Not so much out of protest, but simply because I can't be bothered to do this the way they're doing it now; there's nothing in it for me anymore.

No subtractions this time, pure adds:

Born Ruffians - The Ballad of Moose Bruce
The Ethics - Night Train
Wintersleep - Oblivion
Rouge - Modern Lovers I
Nathan - The Boulevard Back Then
Jeans Boots - Moonbase
The Weather Station - Came So Easy
Lindi Ortega - Dying Of Another Broken Heart
C'mon - Call My Name
Sun Wizard - World's Got A Handle
David Vertesi - All Night, All Night, All Night
Andre Ethier - Infant King
Paper Moon - Turning Colours into Greys
Jane Vain & The Dark Matter - C'mon Baby Say Bang Bang
Danielle Duval - Imposter
Hayden - Let's Break Up

With that we finish up at 95 songs and almost 7.5 hours: perfect for blowing a workday. To be found here for as long as they don't break it. Unless they restart things and I get back to keeping up with the playlist, I likely won't fix it if it breaks. The CBC Radio3 Page is there for anyone that wants to recreate if necessary.