~/.diary schedule
Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated. Covey quadrants - Q1 & Q3: urgent, Q1 & Q2: important
B1XReply about suddenness from E-Mail%20from%20Margaretda@aol.com (ShortStories)
B2XReply from E-Mail%20from%20sandra%20seamans (ShortStories)
B3XFigure out nice hack from E-Mail%20from%20Jun%20Ge (TaskPool)

5. Ranulf's talk: 15:57

Categories: None -- Permalink
This afternoon I will be speaking about iGame in scouting. Before, we had the same presentation for the workshop group, and they expressed very interesting ideas. I will also be sharing some ideas based on the results of the workshop.

Let's define two terms, digital and game. For digital, it doesn't have to be just software. It can be hardware. I traveled around Shinjuku area yesterday evening and I saw a soccer game that's remote-controlled. That is also somewhat digital. Game and watch--even though you don't install the software, it's still digital. The nice thing about digital is that it's user-controlled. When you say it's user-controlled, you can decide when to use the software or not.

The next is game. Games are a part of our lives, and games are usually interactive and fun. We'll talk about the interactive aspect later.

Now we go into the high level design. Why do we actually make the game in the first place? We have to answer three questions. Who will play? Why would they play? What would they play? These three things are important even before you design or write code in making a game. These three questions are answered when you identify these three things: the target players, the main objectives, and the game types. In our workshop, we identified our target players as age 12 to 16. Most of the groups' main objective is to give learning and information regarding scouting. The game types they have suggested are RPG, adventure and simulation. We'll discuss these further later.

In making a game, you have to focus on checking which is your target player. Actually, we have three easy categories to divide the players. First, by age. Kids 7-12 who like simple, very graphical, cartoonish-type of games--Pokemon and something like that. Teenagers 13-18 have a more mature mindset and the normal games that are simple may not be enough for them. Complexity has to go up. Adults (19 onwards) have a different mindset. Most of them are not just in school but already working, so this is a different set of people.

Also, we can categorize the target players by the language. It's very important to make sure that you know the language that your target player is very familiar with.

Last is the level of game time. Casual gamers--when I want to take a break for 15 minutes. Hard-core gamers--something that takes a long time.

That's how you can classify your gamers using these three classifications.

What are the three objectives for making games? The first and most important point is that games provide fun and hidden learning for target players. When you say fun--when they play the game, they should be satisfied. They should be happy. Hidden learning means there is information they pick up from the game itself. Another point is to showcase technological and art capabilities of a company. I think most of you are familiar with the Doom game? Their latest version showcases their technical ability. ... profitability and brand marketing. You can put more advertisments there and other items.

You have two types of advertisments. Active: you have to buy this item, you have to use this software. Passive: simulation car game, when you go along the road, you can see the billboards to the left and right.

Games can also be used to create specific tournaments. For a company, instead of raffling off prizes to someone, they can use tournaments to advertise their companies and give their prizes or their products.

Lastly, it is also used for community building. Particularly online RPGs. The communities also build outside the game.

We'll briefly tackle the different game types. We have a simple puzzle game. We have adventures, games like side-scrolling games. We have sports/action games like basketball and football. We have shooter types of games like Doom or Quake. Also, we have educational games, like for the kids. Strategy, like Warcraft or Starcraft. Role-playing games. Fighting games, which I'm really fond of. And also simulation games. The simulation workshop said they wanted to produce a hybrid RPG/adventure/simulation.

Detailed design process. The components of digital games, progression, and game designer specializations. The three main components of a digital game is that it should have a main objective. The representation of a player should be there--what the player is going to control. Obstactles, and performance feedback. These four elements are very important.

The flow is here. The initial part is to make a good representation inside the game. You should make a character the player can relate to. Different levels, they have different minor objectives, and ther have their own obstacles. As you go to different levels, the obstacles become harder. Check for performance feedback, how the game says if you can go forward or not.

Objective. The main point of having an objective is to provide the player, through story-telling, the reason why they're playing the game. I think you guys are familiar with Star Wars. At the start of the movie, there's text scrolling up. That was an innovative way to tell the story. Also, you can use pictures and full-motion videos to portray the story of the character and his or her objectives inside the game. It should be creative and evolving. The story should not be boring.

Characters or units controlled by the player should be relevant to the player or configurable/creatable. Should be the main character in the story. Most of you are probably familiar with Streetfighter. Some of the characters are representative of different countries. They have diverse story backgrounds, which also entices people to play the game.

Representation also includes attributes displayed either graphically or numerically. It also has a set of controls that can be changed by the player or due to attributes. (Example: screen with icons, explanation of health score.)

Obstacles prevent the character from achieving the objectives in the game. It could be a character against another character (player versus player). Artificial intelligence could control the other character. Also, you could have puzzles you have to solve before you get to the next level. Time, where you have to finish a test within a certain period. Also, lose conditions which will force you to lose the game.

Performance feedback. (Example: map) You know where you are in the story. You can identify increase or decrease in attributes. Also includes decision results. If it's an RPG and you decide poorly, you get demerited. You have cumulative scores and cumulative ranking. (Example: arcade)

Progression focuses on the advancement of game components and provides feeling of achievements to the player. Provides feeling of getting nearer to the girl.

Character progression. Initially, characters start off with the lowest abilities, but ... Actually, I have in this sample, I have Mario. When you start of with Mario, it's a small Mario. When you get a mushroom, you increase in size. When you get a flower, you get the ability to throw fireballs. When you get a feather, you become a raccoon-Mario. This is a classic example of how a character progresses from the the start to the end.

Story progression. The story initially introduces the character and what are their mane objectives. (rest of slide text, Final Fantasy.)

... Level progression. (Sorry, I was fiddling with my translator.)

In the first screen, you can see a screenshot from Castlevania at a very easy stage. Now, you go to the right screenshot, and now the character is on a different level. His opponent is Dracula, and Dracula is throwing fireballs at the character. Comparing the first screenshot to the right, it becomes harder. As levels increase, the difficulty increases. The obstacles themselves increases. Some other notes about obstacles. (slide text)

There are some design flaws where you make a level so hard that characters can't actually finish.

Let's now focus on game designer specializations. First is a scriptwriter. He or she focuses on portraying the main objective or story of the game. Character designer, those who are really good at drawing figures. Level designer--scenery, background, level obstacles and objectives. So we've finished the detailed design process. Next step: simulation games for learning.

There are some games with a very good impact on player learning. I will show you two samples, which is America's Army and Shenmue. (slide text for AA). It was developed to advertise the American Army, and makes full use of whatever's available now. If you use the game, you can virtually use American equipment, and see how their training is done. Next is Shenmue, a very well-designed game. This is an adventure game, actually, but it simulates real-life setting in Japan and Hong Kong. I played this game personally and I learned what pachinko was. I never went to Japan or Hong Kong before, but I learned pachinko in this game. This is a good example of a game that uses real-life settings in the game.

(Screenshots for AA and Shenmue.) (AA obstacle course.) Shenmue is a game. The first screenshot is the character. The character is very detailed, almost like a real person. There's also the element of time. The game simulates time. In the lower right side, you can see the character and the environment. If you look at the environment, it looks like a real place. It gives the character a sense of immersion in the environment. In this game, I learned how to play pachinko, and a number of other things about Japan and Hong Kong. The important thing here is that I learned something as I played the game. You can't go to the next level without learning something about martial arts.


Feedback. Good input. Not sure how many out there are games developers, but it is quite a difficult subject, and Ranulf has managed to condense it very well into 30 minutes and make it quite simple. You might be pleased to hear that the teams working in the workshop did fantastic work on devising ideas for simulation games such as how to run a weekend scout camp and other things, things that reflect real-life scouting. ... observation about gaming in a scouting context, sometimes in games there are winners and losers, and in scouting, we try to accommodate everyone. We need to find some way of ensuring that when people lose a game, they don't feel negative about it, and they don't take that into their real scouting. I think also with passive advertising, which you mentioned and which can sometimes be a commercial opportunity to offset development costs, we're a values-based organization and we have to be careful about aligning advertising with our values as a movement. Game development seems to be quite a big exercise. In relation to scouting again, we need to be clear about the aims without overcomplicating things. Sometimes the beauty of things is in their simplicity.

I think those were the main points.

Something about shoot-them-ups. Violence that accompanies such games. We need to be careful about ourselves as a movement.

I think this is extremely useful for learning scouting skills. What is the dangerous element in activity, how to do outdoor cooking, how to teach... This is very useful. My concern is, is there any automatic generator after you develop the storyboard? We don't have expertise of developing the games itself. After you develop the storyboard, is there any automatic generator to make the game? I would like to open up the open forum. Anyone who has a question or comment or whatever, raise your hand.

Q: When I saw iGame scouting, I was very moved. It was wonderful. In April, my troop, the scouts, I asked them what they would like to do and we talked about this. There were about 40 opinions that came up, and one of them was "Hijack!". I complimented this person. "If you can figure out how to do it, and come up with a plan, that's good, but please don't actually do it." ... creating... that kind of thinking is something we can use in the scouting movement. Something I am concerned about--maybe this is unique to Japan--has a lot of Brazilian immigrants. Late at night, it's a bit dangerous. In such a community, games allow you to experience things that you might not be able to do, like go somewhere you can't. This gives you a sense of "I can do it!" I think that's great. But for someone who hasn't done it offline--for example, how to use a saw--may actually do that in the game, but they do that offline, they may actually cut their hand or something like that. Without that kind of accident, with only the image they have of the game, it could lead to some kind of criminal act. It's not just something that hurts, it could be a lot more serious than that. How can we relay this kind of danger to the scouts? To create a game... When you've experienced that on the game, what do we do afterwards if there are any kinds of examples we could make so that the scouts don't apply what they learned in the game to real life to the game in a negative way?

Response: Actually, there are some games that give very detailed, important steps. I'll share with you one of the simulation games I played before. (Hospital). If you don't follow the steps, procedures and safety requirements, you won't pass the level. I learned to be very careful, and make sure everything is in place before I do an action. In games, when you repetitively do something, directions you need to follow, rules you need to follow, then it will be implanted into the player that you also need to keep them in mind. ... Everything that would be a safety hazard in real life would also be a hazard in the game. What they do virtually, when they go out, they also remember.

I think the typical simulator is flight simulator, which airliners use for training the pilots because flying an airplane is expensive and if you crash it... There's no how-to-use knife simulator yet. You can develop how-to-use-knife simulator if you want.

C: Nature is our teacher, that is a saying. Nature itself is our teacher. We educators in youth programs can learn much from nature, and that is why we do youth programs. ICT is done in doors, but school teachers are more adequate for teaching ICT. For example, game program development. Is this something that is suitable for us to teach? Even if we are not suitable, should we teach it?

We're not denying the importance of nature. Scout methods is the basics. The world is changing rapidly. We are not living in nature. It's been a hundred years since scouting began, and there's less and less nature. Technology has come into our lives. We don't need to buy an airline ticket, we can do it online. We need to think about the objectives of the youth program. We need to attract and retain membership. We want to make it possible for scouts to stay in the program until they finish their education. Nothing outside of the outdoors is not adequate. If we have that kind of head, we cannot retain members. The principle is still nature and the outdoors, this has not changed. But if we focus on just that, we cannot keep their interest. We need to broaden our activities in order to incorporate IT. Let's accept that way of thinking. We don't necessarily have to go against the basic principles of scouting. That's something I don't want you to misunderstand.

C: Just to highlight a point about gaming, particularly for the youth. We are trying to take the element of gaming to maximize the reach to the youth. In Singapore, the educational system is like Japan, very intensive, focused on getting results. Recently they are looking at changing the system to make learning more fun. How do they do that? We are starting to teach mathematics by playing games. There is already in the market a keyboard that shoots space invaders. By shooting, you are reading the notes of a musical page. It's been proven that they can read the piece and play the notes as fast as they can shoot space invaders. This is a tool, this is a learning tool, and it is effective for the kids. How we make use of it is what we have to figure out.

Ranulf: Also, I'd like to comment. You can also show the player or the scout that being outdoors is actually a fun activity. America's Army is done outside, so they see the trees, the plants, so they want to go out and check out these things so that they find out what these things look like in real life. Games is a good way of advertising outdoors.

In fact, there was one comment someone told us when we were organizing this workshop. Why do you want ICT for scouting? Through these things, we want them to come out of the computer room. If you can do that, that's one thing for scouting. (Always an argument.)

To do and to make game, there are two aspects. The children are very good at playing games, but making, they haven't done that, for the most part. So planning, designing, I think they can do that. Unfortunately, they can't do the program. In that case, they cannot make the game, or it is very difficult. If that happens, they designed it, but it cannot be realized. I think that's questionable. They tried very hard, and there are children who will give up without learning how to program. Is there any good solution for this? Automatic coding would be very good.

Ranulf: First of, in this workshop a while ago, starting Thursday, one of the objectives was actually to get raw data from the scout leaders in the workshop. So actually, they were able to present well some ideas they wanted to implement for the game. You can also provide information, input, on what scouting input or information you want to place into the game. As for game development itself, I think real professionals will do it. As scouts, you can have input into how you want the game to be, so that when scouts play the game, they'll learn a lot and experience more things. Developing a game will be done by a different set of people.

Yes, we are not talking about putting game design into the youth program. We want to make use of the game as a tool to make scouting attractive and for them to learn something through the tool. It's not part of the youth program or youth activity. The exercise the other group is doing is an an example. As scout leaders, they are coming up with ideas of what a scout game could look like.

In this game, we are talking about values. We should have a very clear vision and mission. How can we put these things into consideration in our games?

Ranulf: You mentioned three things. For knowledge, you can place inside the game some things that are information, but they always have to make good use of that information or else they will get lost and not be able to go to the next level. For example, making use of a virtual compass. Next is attitude. There are some games (especially RPGs) where your attitude toward someone will get different results. This can reinforce the right attitude for the player. Third is practice. In the game, (example: compass). When the player actually uses a compass, he will already be very familiar with it.

I think that's very true. Co-values. We have very very definite values we stand for. Whatever trend we adopt can never go against these values. (Example about violent game.)

A while ago, we talked about outdoors. In the future, let's say that the telecom in the future, we'll be able to go outdoors and play games. If that happens, then our range of activities, what we can do, we can use games. We can expand our activity range. Is there a new game we can do outdoors? Is there a game we can implement and promote to the scouts?

I would encourage you later today to make contact with the participants from Hong Kong, who gave insights into very practical outdoor activities they had, combining orienteering with GPS. They gave a very good presentation showing how technology can be combined with scouting.

I think a few countries have used such technology, specially in hiking. It's becoming more and more popular in countries. Time for break until 4:30.

4. Excuse me for replying directly: 14:22

Categories: JapanJargon#3 -- Permalink
直接 ちょくせつ /(adj-na,n-adv) direct/immediate/personal/firsthand/(P)/
失礼 しつれい /(adj-na,int,n,vs,exp) (1) discourtesy/impoliteness/(2) Excuse me/Goodbye/(P)/

3. That's odd: 01:42

Categories: None -- Permalink
Either offending computer is off the network at the moment, or the trick is just to wait until someone else has made the ARP request so that I don't have an incomplete entry in my cache. Let's test that theory tomorrow evening.

2. Strange problem with Linux networking: 00:42

Categories: None -- Permalink
For some reason, I sporadically have problems with Linux networking, although Windows works without any obvious problems. DHCP works. I acquire a sane-looking address and the same connection details (DNS server, default gateway, netmask). DNS lookups work, as the DNS is within the subnet. However, routing packages through the gateway doesn't work on Linux. Ethereal shows me that my computer keeps sending ARP requests for the gateway, which doesn't answer. When I set the MAC address for the gateway using arp --set, I get delays when I try to access it, and no successful transmissions.

The strange thing is that it sometimes works, it sometimes doesn't. This morning and early this afternoon, I connected without problems. Sometimes I manage to connect during the night. Possibly a misconfigured computer joining the network? (I hope it's not mine. Then again, I successfully connect some of the time.)

Now, I know the gateway exists, because I can see traffic from it from time to time--usually, very delayed ARP responses to _other_ people, not to me. Could my MAC address be getting filtered on the server side? I'm not sure. That requires some setup (unless they have an automated firewall doing weird stuff) and doesn't explain why I can occasionally access the Net.

Very strange.

I don't think it's my computer's fault, but I'm still annoyed.

Other packets are going through the gateway fine. Why don't mine?

Wild speculation: perhaps the server has a Windows-biased virus that won't let uninfected hosts access the Internet... ;) So much for Occam's Razor, eh?

I miss the Internet.

1. Nomikai: 00:29

The nomikai was tons of fun! I'm looking forward to the next one. I met lots of interesting people. Michael Moyle is into Linux administration and programming, and is looking for a part-time job while he studies Japanese. Michael Reinsch is into component systems research, a higher-level version of aspect-oriented programming. He likes strongly-typed languages. Jeffrey Keays is a Java non-fan and likes PHP and Perl, and is fairly interested in aspect-oriented programming but hasn't really gotten into it beyond reading a few papers, as the main implementations use Java. He likes loosely-typed languages and thinks Ruby is delicious. Thomas Giuffr辿 is his boss. Ken'ichi-san thinks Planner is a bit difficult to use, and is of the opinion that no Emacs-based PIM has quite hit the mark yet. He laughed when he saw his website on my task list. Uekawa-san (dancer,dancerj(IRC)) is a DD who's also going to Kansai Open Source 2004. We swapped GPG fingerprints, so all I have to do now is study for the interview. Moon Ki Cho is Ernest's friend and is interested in Linux, but hasn't really tried it out yet. There was one other girl. I think I was the youngest there.

I particularly enjoyed practicing my Japanese, although I'm still bad at it. =)

I made it back barely in time. I managed to catch a train going all the way to Sangyo Shinko Center, and I even made it before curfew. Whee! I will certainly attend the next one.