April 24, 2012

ArenaNet founder says “We’re in it to win” with Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming, Gaming, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 10:42

A recent interview with Mike O’Brien, founder of ArenaNet, in Forbes:

Guild Wars beat all of our expectations and our company grew as we put out four expansions and we came together as a team and learned how to build content,” said O’Brien. “We got to a point where we wanted to see what we could accomplish next, so in 2007 we announced to our fans that we were going to start working on Guild Wars 2 and we’d be quiet for a while.”

That long wait is finally coming to a close with an open beta test this coming weekend, where fans will get their first tour of the new Tyria, set 250 years after the events of the first game.

“We’re in it to win it this time,” said O’Brien. “We were number two to World of Warcraft with Guild Wars, now we want to beat them. We’ll be satisfied when the Guild Wars 2 is the most successful MMO. I think we have something unique here and players are going to see it and understand why dynamic events are a way better content model than people have experienced before in online worlds. Word-of-mouth will get people to understand that we really are doing something new and different. The sky’s the limit once this game is out. Online worlds have a networking effect. People will bring friends to Guild Wars 2. We hope all the people who play the beta weekend will tell their friends about it.”

The Hunger Games as a fictionalized version of the UN’s “Agenda 21”

Filed under: Books, Government, Liberty, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:25

In a letter published in the most recent issue of Libertarian Enterprise, David Walker points out the quite notable similarities between the fictional world portrayed in The Hunger Games and the United Nations’ Agenda 21:

The Hunger Games “universe” is the inevitable result at the attempt to implement Agenda 21.

  • Herding the population into tightly controlled resource production “districts”.
    While there are no “arcologies/super cities” as forwarded by Agenda 21, I don’t think such things could possibly be created by such a system anyway. The Agenda 21 structure is simply too anti-technological and too government heavy. The “Hunger Games” police state “Districts” is a much more believable result of enforced population reduction & control.
  • In the “country” of “Panem” no one is allowed out into “the wild”. Agenda 21 demands “rewilding” of all space outside of habitation districts. In the Hunger Games, crossing the electrified fence can get you shot. Killing wild game (poaching the government’s animals) will get you shot. Pristine Earth policed with heavy weapons. Sound familiar?
  • Travel is largely by High Speed Rail, and solely by High Speed Rail between Districts. Cars/trucks are only mentioned in the Capitol. The more poor the district, the more likely you are to be forced to walk everywhere. Only the Military has anything resembling air travel and even that is curtailed (one character dreams/reminisces about winged flight vs. hovercraft).
  • The utter disdain for Carbon Based Fuels.
    The Heroine from Hunger Games comes from the Coal Producing District (District 12). As described, there simply could not be enough coal produced by that district to have coal be a viable energy source, therefore the coal must be being used for other non-energy-related tasks. Likewise, “District 12” is the pariah of the Districts. Nobody loves Coal, and nobody loves the people who produce it. “Power” is produced by a nameless “District 5” by nameless means, though Nuclear is suggested on the website.
  • There is no Religion in the Hunger Games world.
    Agenda 21 specifically declares non-pantheistic/non-“natural” religions (particularly Judaism, Islam & Christianity) as something that must be eliminated. “Nature worship” is apparently OK.
  • The Government is Hollywood/Hollywood is Government.
    Hollyweirdoes love Agenda 21. The 3 books of the series are not kind to Hollywood and the kind of government the majority of those weirdoes would create. It presents “The Capitol” as a cross between San-Francisco Body Modification, Hollywood & Rome where nonproductive decadence, self importance, absurd vanity and utter banality are the rule. Any wonder the Movie(s) (will) suppress this aspect of the books?

Other Themes, late in the series: Revolutions aren’t always led by noble causes.

Is your boss a baboon? You’re quite correct

Filed under: Media, Science — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:07

Matt Ridley reviews a new book, Games Primates Play by Dario Maestripieri:

Generally, junior professors write long and unsolicited emails to senior professors, who reply with short ones after a delay; the juniors then reply quickly and at length. This is not because the seniors are busier, for they, too, write longer and more punctually when addressing their deans and funders, who reply more briefly and tardily. The asymmetry in length and speed of reply correlates with dominance.

When a subordinate chimpanzee grooms a dominant one, it often does so for a long time and unsolicited. When it then requests to be groomed in turn, it receives only a brief grooming and usually after having to ask a second time.

[. . .]

He observes two university colleagues in a coffee shop and notes how the senior one takes the chair with the back to the wall (the better to spot attacks by rivals or leopards), is less attentive to her colleague’s remarks than vice versa, stares down her colleague when a contentious issue comes up and takes the lead on walking out the door at the end-all of it neatly corresponding to the behavior of two baboons when one is dominant.

(A new member of a committee on which I served once asked me why a senior colleague was being so horrible to him. I replied: “Oh, it’s because when a new male baboon joins a troop, it’s traditional for the alpha male to beat him up before becoming his best friend — soon he’ll think the world of you.” I was right.)

It includes a fascinating insight into the benefits and problems of peer review.

Colby Cosh on the “Alberta surprise”

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:53

From his most recent column at Maclean’s:

An Alberta astronaut returning from Titan and seeing the result of last night’s election would say “Meh, so what else is new? The PCs carried 61 of 87 seats? Kind of an off year for them, I guess.” Yet the ostensibly boring, familiar outcome wrong-footed much of the media and absolutely all the pollsters. Even PC insiders, correctly detecting a last-minute shift away from the Wildrose Party heirs-presumptive, envisioned a much smaller vote share than the 44 per cent Alison Redford’s party achieved. The public polling firms all botched the job, with none forecasting anything but a Wildrose majority even on the final weekend.

The Wildrose Party’s final count of 17 seats must surely leave its braintrust, heavily stocked with Conservative Party of Canada veterans, obliterated with horror. The CPC has built a pretty good electoral machine, but as old Ralph Klein hand and Wildrose supporter Rod Love reminded CBC, the Alberta PC brand is the most successful in the country. He probably could have gone even further afield if he wanted to. (On August 24, 2014, the PCs will officially become the longest continuously serving government in the annals of Confederation.) In 1993 the PCs were in trouble late, but succeeded in outflanking a popular Liberal opposition and running against their own record. They did it again in 2012. Redford succeeded in making herself the “change” candidate — though not without help from the Wildrose insurgents, who suffered late “bozo eruptions” of the sort the CPC itself has long since succeeded in extinguishing.

Update: Even Colby can’t seem to avoid the “Ten things” meme:

1. Proportional representation just won itself a whole passel of new right-wing fans.

2. Alberta Liberal morale remained high throughout an election in which pollsters warned continually of disaster. And the pollsters proved to be almost exactly right about this (if nothing else). Yet even as the mortifying results rolled in, Alberta Liberal morale still remained high. Then their egomaniac not-really-Liberal disaster of a leader, Raj Sherman, won his seat by the skin of his teeth. This means he will not have to be replaced unless an awful lot of people smarten up fast. Alberta Liberal morale after this event? Easily, easily at its highest point in ten years. “Please, sir, may I have another?”

[. . .]

5. Those who did boycott the Senate election seem awfully proud of themselves, because it was a “meaningless” election. Why, one wonders, does it have to be meaningless? The “progressive” parties could have agreed on a single Senate candidate in advance; if they had done so, that candidate would certainly have ended up first in the queue, and provided an excellent test of Stephen Harper’s integrity, which I am told is much doubted.

The problem is that Harper might pass the test, you say? Then what’s the harm? You get some smart, popular left-wing independent speaking for Alberta in the Senate? That’s bad for “progressives” how?

I’m still waiting for the definitive post-election analysis of why all the polls were so far off: I didn’t see a single poll in the last two weeks of the election that didn’t have Danielle Smith’s Wildrose Party in clear majority territory. Nobody was predicting another PC victory in that time period (or if they were, the national media wasn’t picking it up).

Corruption in Afghanistan reaches new heights

Filed under: Asia, Government, Middle East, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:33

From Strategy Page:

A major obstacle to improving security in Iraq and Afghanistan was not equipment, training or leadership, but corruption. No matter how well led, trained and equipped the troops were, if they could be bought they were worse than useless. But the corruption went beyond the troops themselves. Government officials had to be carefully monitored to prevent the money for equipment, training and pay from being stolen before it got to the troops. More fundamentally, corruption was the reason Iraq, Afghanistan and so many other nations are poor and full of unhappy, and often violent, people. Corruption is why these places are chaotic and so often in the news. Corruption is the major cause of Islamic terrorism. Corruption does not get the recognition it deserves.

But in Afghanistan corruption has recently risen to new heights; literally. Several recent attacks in Kabul have made use of unfinished high-rise buildings, where terrorists used the height advantage to do more damage. American advisors noted that there were a lot of unfinished tall buildings in Kabul, and many had apparently been abandoned. The Americans asked the local government who owned these high-rise structures and was told that the government didn’t know. Kabul has undergone a construction boom in the last decade, and many of the builders (or their backers) didn’t bother with getting construction permits. If the cops or officials came around asking questions they were offered a bribe, or a death threat, or both. Inquisitive journalists were handled the same way.

An excerpt from John Scalzi’s latest novel, Redshirts

Filed under: Books, Humour, Media — Tags: — Nicholas @ 08:15

John Scalzi felt some sympathy for the poor lads and lasses who wear the Redshirt … the ones who only show up for the first few minutes of the show and die gruesomely, leaving the heroes to carry on. His latest novel is a bit of payback for all the members of the “away teams” who never came back.

Click the image to see the first five chapters at the Tor.com website

Powered by WordPress